By Ken Molestina

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – University of Texas at Arlington Bio Engineering Chair, Dr. Michael Cho is leading research efforts on the forefront of understanding brain injuries in hundreds of thousands of military veterans.

It’s all thanks to a $1.24 million dollar grant recently awarded by the office of Naval Research.

The specific injuries he is looking into are caused by shockwaves from explosions that create energy bubbles in a person’s brain. Those bubbles are so small they can’t be detected by modern technology. However, their effect is very destructive when those energy packed bubbles pop — killing surrounding brain cells. The side effects, Dr. Cho said include headaches, memory loss, deterioration of brain mass and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Dr. Cho said, “If we are successful we should have a clear understanding of the physiological mechanisms that are responsible for causing this micro-sized damage to the brain.”

To date Dr. Cho explains many service members exhibit the systems of brain injuries caused by energy bubbles popping, but their conditions aren’t diagnosed because there is now way to see the injury through MRI’s or other scans.

His research will include larger models and in vitro procedures that will allow them to see the bubbles clearly and study their behavior.

Specifically Dr. Cho wants to see how far the energy released by an exploding bubble effects nearby brain cells, and how brain vessels react.

He added,”The brain is the one last remaining organ that we don’t have a clear understanding of how it works.”

Although Dr. Cho and UTA will spearhead the study, it is being done in partnership with Old Dominion Univeristy and Purdue. It is expected to last 3 years.

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