Soldiers in combat zones may have hidden head injures. That's the word from a clinical neuropsychologist who was speaking at a conference on military trauma Thursday.
Dr. Harriet Zeiner says that there could be many military personnel that have mild brain injuries that aren't obvious yet still affect basic functions. Mild brain injuries can cause many problems including learning impairment, memory loss, severe fatigue, headaches.
"It's these other folks that we're missing," Zeiner said in an interview. "That's one thing we have to do, is figure out how to identify people who aren't complaining,"
These mild brain injuries are becoming a "signature wound" of the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is estimated that 320,000 soldiers have this condition according to Zeiner.
American legislators voted earlier this month to expand monitoring and research for brain injuries.
Canadian defense critic Dawn Black says that there isn't a lot of information about the number of soldiers that have a mild brain injury due to their time in Afghanistan.
"Anecdotally, it would indicate that this is an increase and an issue to be very concerned about," Black said from Vancouver.
The House of Commons defence committee is studying the issue and results should be available in June according to Black.
With as many soldiers exposed to the risk of this type of brain injury there is no telling what the future may mean for those serving their country in the Middle East.