U.S. veterans who had close calls with bomb blasts during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are now having memory problems, a new study has found.
Led by researchers from the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Boston, the study assessed the cognitive functioning of 333 veterans of those wars.
They study found that people who had been within 11 yards or less of a blast had lower scores on memory tests, and higher rates of cognitive impairment overall, than those who had not been as close to an explosion.
Symptoms of concussion from a blast can include loss of consciousness, no memory of the blast or feelings of confusion immediately afterwards, said study author Dr. Laura Grande. However, people exposed to blasts don’t always have symptoms of concussion, she added.
“We found the impairment in memory could not be explained by the number of symptomatic concussions an individual sustained over his/her lifetime and was, instead, driven largely by close exposure to a blast,” Grande said in a VA news release.
Bomb blasts were responsible for 78 percent of combat injuries from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the researchers.
The findings were published recently in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.