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Brain-injured troops may reach 360,000

Associated Press / March 5, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The number of US troops who have suffered wartime brain injuries may be as high as 360,000 and could cast more attention on such injuries among civilians, Defense Department doctors said yesterday.

The estimate of the number injured - the vast majority of them suffering concussions - represents 20 percent of the roughly 1.8 million men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where blast injuries are common from roadside bombs and other explosives, the doctors said.

The estimate came during a Pentagon news conference on activities planned this month to bring attention to brain injuries. The doctors said the number could be as low as 180,000, based on estimates that between 10 percent and 20 percent of troops might have such injuries.

The previous high estimate offered publicly was 320,000 in a study released a year ago by the private Rand Corp. It was based on about 1.6 million who had done tours of duty Iraq or Afghanistan from late 2001.

Although so-called traumatic brain injury can range from a mild form such as concussions to severe forms with penetrating head wounds, officials said the majority of injuries among troops are the mild form.

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