Evidence of brain damage link to Gulf War illness may end up benefiting others
By USA Today
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Researchers say they have found physical proof that Gulf War illness is caused by damage to the brain — and that proof may help civilians who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Using fMRI machines, the Georgetown University researchers were able to see anomalies in the bundle of nerve fibers that interpret pain signals in the brain in 31 Gulf War veterans. The research published on Wednesday in PLOS ONE journal. An fMRI, or “functional” MRI, is a scan that measures activity by detecting how blood flows through the brain.
The findings are “huge,” because an fMRI allows doctors to diagnose a person with Gulf War illness quickly, said James Baraniuk, senior author and professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. The research, he said, also shows that Gulf War illness is not psychological.
Many veterans have had difficulties getting benefits and treatment for a service-connected condition because doctors assumed they were either faking it or suffering from post-traumatic stress. “That's a problem with all physicians — VA, military or civilian,” Baraniuk said. “If it doesn't fall within their small world of known diseases, then the patient is nuts.”
Gulf War illness is a series of symptoms that has affected more than 250,000 veterans of the 1991 war against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Baraniuk said the correlation of anomalies in the brain's white matter with Gulf War illness has not been studied before. Researchers, he said, also found that fatigue and pain worsen congruently in the veterans.
“This is a big deal,” Army veteran Robert Ward said. “This has ruined my life.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- El Nino could bring relief to U.S.
- Immigrant detainees on hunger strike
- Kansas public school funding unconstitutional
- Expats renounce citizenship over U.S. tax hassles
- Obama gets in some golf on family trip to Key Largo
- Obama losing close adviser to end 9 years of service
- You know that pot at end of the rainbow?
- Disney to end Boy Scouts funding over gay policy
- Volunteers reconstruct World War II bomber plane
- Traffic cameras rejected in Ohio ruling
- 5 more Duke Energy plants cited