Last month, the United States Department of Defense revealed a brain bank aimed at furthering research of the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Several families have made donations to the research effort, and the collection of specimens has received many requests from researchers looking to study the brains, according to Forbes. Currently, the bank is looking to receive more donations from service members with or without a history of TBI.
Forbes reports that the bank has “collected specimens from service members exposed to combat explosions and other causes of TBI.” However, the bank is also looking to collect the brains of service members who never had TBI to serve as a control group. The bank can only collect brain tissue from the deceased because the required research calls for post-mortem tissue. Donations can only be made by the family of the deceased service members, and the bank will accept brain tissue from service members who have committed suicide.
An important goal of the research effort is to determine whether or not links exist between suicide and TBI. According to Army Times, the researchers also hope to assess the differences between a brain affected by TBI and a normal brain. They will analyze the damage to the brains affected with TBI, and search for correlations between symptoms present during the service member’s life and the extent of the TBI.
Since 2000, the Department of Defense has diagnosed more than 273,000 service members with TBI from combat incidents such as high-explosive blasts. Although the brain is difficult to decipher, scientists hope the research effort will provide more insight into the effects of TBI. The scientists will also have access to the service members’ military records that document how and when they first sustained a TBI, allowing the researchers to find patterns. Scientists from around the world will also help with the research effort.