VA Study: Getting shot in head may lead to brain injury in some troops

WASHINGTON — A new report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs has revealed that some troops who have been shot in the head may suffer mild to severe brain injury in certain cases.

The comprehensive study took chief researcher Dr. Rich Meecham and his team decades to perform, and Meecham says there is a chance the results may impact the disability ratings of a small number of qualified veterans.

"We looked at the data from those troops who have suffered gunshot wounds to the head in the past, and we determined there is at least a moderate chance of those patients suffering some sort of cranial injury," said Meecham. "This is especially true in those without proper diet and exercise."

Meecham added that tobacco use and violation of grooming regulations greatly increased the risk of suffering an injury after receiving a bullet in the skull. He and his team pored over hundreds of files and X-ray images to determine just what the side effects of such an injury could be. Their ultimate goal is to establish a set of guidelines for diagnosing and treating gunshot wounds to the head, but they say the project could take decades.

Currently, the only VA-approved treatment is Motrin and hydration.

"You can see with this patient there is clearly something wrong with the front part of the brain area," Meecham told reporters, pointing to what was clearly an X-ray of a left foot. "That can't be good."

The study has also looked at previous research that certain at-risk populations of service members who step on IEDs may face potential trauma to their lower extremities.

"The results are inconclusive, but it does appear that stepping on IEDs may lead to foot and leg injuries, and even death," he added. "Especially if you don't blouse your boots."