Director’s Special Colloquium: ‘The Long-Term Effects of Warfare-Related Traumatic Brain Injury: Is It Another Form of Football or Something Else?’
Daniel P. Perl, Professor of Pathology (Neuropathology) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, will present “The Long-Term Effects of Warfare-Related Traumatic Brain Injury: Is It Another Form of Football or Something Else?” at a Director’s Special Colloquium. The event takes place Monday, April 17, 2017, at 2 p.m. in the Bldg. 402 Auditorium. All employees whose schedules permit are invited to attend.
Veterans are welcome to meet with the speaker following the colloquium. Call Pat Canaday at ext. 2-5562 to register or for more information.
Shuttle service will be provided beginning at 1:15 p.m., with stops at Buildings 201, 212, 202, 203, 200, 205 and 362. Return trips will follow the talk.
With increased use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become the “signature injury” of current warfare. With the protection of modern body armor and helmets, many military personnel who would have died in the past from equivalent explosive exposure are actually surviving — with TBI. Unfortunately, multiple exposures to high explosives with subsequent nonfatal brain injuries have become extremely common among military service members, especially with the current reality of repeated deployments. Following experiencing a mild TBI, service members often complain of persistent behavioral/neurologic symptoms including headaches, irritability, memory problems, difficulty concentrating and sleep disturbance, all suggesting that structural abnormalities can accompany TBI among military personnel. An additional very common disorder experienced by numerous returning service members has been post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Adding to the concern about this problem has been the recent findings among athletes who have been involved in contact sports with repeated head trauma (boxing, American football, hockey, etc.). Such athletes are at significant risk for developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE, or formerly dementia pugilistica), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder associated with the accumulation of the protein tau in nerve cells. Clinically, CTE shows many signs and symptoms in common with that seen among military personnel who have returned from the battlefield. To complicate things further, military service members frequently engage in contact sports.
It has become clear that high explosives are capable of producing a specific pattern of damage to the brain that is consistent with our current understanding of biophysical principles (Lancet Neurol. 15:944-953, 2016). In some cases, these exposures also appear capable of triggering degenerative changes involving tau protein that are comparable to those seen in former contact sport athletes. The combination of these changes in brain structure and function results in a complex set of neurologic and psychiatric clinical features that have now forced us into discussions of the enigma between the nature of diseases of the brain and of the mind.
Daniel Perl is a professor of pathology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine. In the past few years he has concentrated his efforts on the study of the neuropathology of TBI, especially in a military context. In conjunction with the congressionally mandated Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, he has established a state-of-the-art neuropathology laboratory dedicated to research on the acute and long-term effects of traumatic brain injury among military personnel.
Perl has authored more than 260 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and is co-author of the third edition of Oppenheimer’s Diagnostic Neuropathology, one of the leading textbooks in his field.
He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and his medical training at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. He then completed postgraduate training in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology at Yale University.