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“Breachers” face brain injury, inflammation from explosion proximity, UVA study says

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Updated: Nov. 12, 2020 at 8:16 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A new study from the University of Virginia is showing that being around even controlled explosions repeatedly could be hazardous to men and women in uniform.

The study analyzed the brains of “breachers". They are soldiers and police officers who use controlled explosions to enter structures. The research found that a group of career “breachers” - with thousands of exposures to the controlled explosions each - had increased levels of brain injury and inflammation than control groups, who had none.

“We were able to see changes within the structure and the function of the brain, the structure being the white matter or the gray matter within the brain, the function being looking at how blood flow moves through the brain, how there may be general changes in the activity itself of the brain," UVA Lead Researcher James Stone said. "Across all of those measures, we saw changes.”

Researchers say the next step will be determining how much exposure begins to alter the brain, and how those changes might be treated or prevented.

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