US Department of Defense
Advancing Blast Injury Research to Protect and Heal Those Who Serve

International State-of-the-Science Meeting – Does Repeated Blast-Related Trauma Contribute to the Development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?

Blast-related injury is a potential threat to the health and performance of Service Members. Some research suggest that repeated exposure to blast-related traumatic brain injury could induce long-term neurodegeneration. Questions about the potential association between repeated head injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have been raised amidst brain health concerns for military and contact sports populations. To address these questions, the Department of Defense Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office organized the 2015 International State-of-the-Science (SoS) Meeting on November 3-5, 2015, in McLean, Virginia, on the question, "Does Repeated Blast-Related Trauma Contribute to the Development of CTE?" Findings and recommendations from this meeting guide future scientific research and the development of prevention, assessment, and treatment strategies for the military and sports communities.


Purpose and Meeting Objectives

  • Discuss the evidence linking repeated blast exposure to neurodegeneration
  • Assess the pathophysiology, underlying mechanisms of injury, and progression of blast-induced neurodegeneration
  • Identify specific features that can contribute to the characterization of CTE as a unique neurodegenerative disorder
  • Examine relevant animal injury models for blast-induced neurodegeneration
  • Discuss strategies for prevention, mitigation, early diagnosis, and treatment of blast-induced neurodegeneration
  • Explore the link between blast-induced neurodegeneration and CTE
  • Identify knowledge gaps that will inform future research directions

Questions for Discussion

The meeting participants were charged with answering the following questions during the working group sessions:

  • What are the definitive pathological characteristics of neurodegeneration from repeated blast-induced trauma?
  • What risk factors, both traumatic and non-traumatic, are predictive of CTE?
  • What research is needed to explore the putative spatiotemporal development of CTE resulting from repeated blast exposure?
  • What approaches can be used to detect early stages of blast-related neurodegeneration and evaluate the progression to CTE to support the screening, detection, diagnosis, prognosis, assessment of therapeutic interventions, and determination of return to duty status?
  • What are the strategies that can be used to prevent, mitigate, or treat neurodegeneration following repeated blast exposure?
Last modified: 15-Jul-2022