There has reportedly been a 50% increase in traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosed in US soldiers caused by the missile attack by Iran on a base located in Iraq in January. According to the United States Armed Forces, 109 service members experienced mild TBI.
No soldiers were killed or immediately suffered injuries during the attack and of the 109 diagnosed with TBI, 76 of them have reportedly returned to duty.
Traumatic brain injury explained
TBI is defined as sudden brain damage that is usually caused by a blow to the head. TBI is known to manifest much later after the initial impact and those affected could take some time to show symptoms, which is why some soldiers came forward much later than the time of the attack, according to the US military.
A person suffering from mild TBI can experience confusion, disorientation, headache, memory loss, fatigue, visual problems, feelings of depression and even loss of consciousness for brief periods of time.
Those with more severe damage can lose consciousness for more than six hours. According to data from , there are about 408,000 soldiers who have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury since 2000.
At the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2020, US President Donald Trump said that he did not consider TBI as a serious form of injury. “No, I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious,” Trump told a reporter at the press conference.
He added that TBI does not compare to other bodily injuries that are sustained in attacks by Iranian forces. “I’ve seen what Iran has done with their roadside bombs to our troops. I’ve seen people with no legs and with no arms. I’ve seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war,” he continued.
US Republican Senator Joni Ernst said more answers are needed in order to devise a plan to treat the injured service members. “As the number of reported TBIs continue to rise, it’s vital we have a plan to treat these injured servicemembers. I’ve called on the Pentagon to ensure the safety & care of our deployed forces who may be exposed to blast injuries in Iraq. We need answers, [sic]” Ernst tweeted.