Ruptured Eardrums After Battlefield Blast Signal Possible Brain Injury

UNDATED (AP) - A study on troops who survived roadside bombings and explosive attacks in Iraq could help doctors trying to diagnose brain injuries.

Doctors in Iraq found that soldiers who had ruptured eardrums were at three-times the risk of having a concussive brain injury.

They looked at 210 surviving troops for research which will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The theory is the eardrum acts as a litmus test for what can make it to the brain. Because the membrane is thinner than a contact lens, whatever gets through the eardrum, such as the pressurized shock wave that follows an explosion, is likely to get through and damage the brain.

The finding can help doctors who have few tools to diagnose such hidden brain injuries. They usually pick up on problems only when patients are irritable and forgetful.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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