Brain injury fears for troops

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The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that it is surveying veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to see if they are showing signs of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), heightening concerns over the long-term well-being of servicemen and women returning from the frontline.

Questionnaires have been sent to troops to see if they are showing symptoms of the condition, which include memory loss, anxiety and depression.

Fears were sparked after the United States army said up to 20 per cent of its soldiers could be suffering from the injury, which is caused by blows to the head or shockwaves from explosions. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 UK troops could be at risk, although the MoD says it does not accept the condition is as widespread as its US counterparts believe.

In 90 per cent of cases the symptoms last for just three months.

An MoD spokesman said it was working closely with the US to find out more about the condition and that all wounded personnel admitted to the military rehabilitation centre in Headley Court were being screened for symptoms of the injury.

A statement from the MoD added: "Special investigations are undertaken in order to identify the nature and degree of any structural damage to the brain.

"In addition, all personnel who sustain any form of head injury or blast injury whilst on operations will now be carefully monitored. We are gathering an increasing database of head injury patients at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine to inform improvements in diagnosis and management."