CIA officer from bin Laden hunt to lead Havana Syndrome probe as cases rise

A beautifully maintained car from the '50s drives past a Brutalist skyscraper.

Enlarge / Picture of the US embassy in Havana, taken on October 3, 2017. (credit: Getty | YAMIL LAGE)

An undercover Central Intelligence Agency officer who helped hunt down Osama bin Laden will now lead the agency task force charged with investigating the mysterious health incidents that continue to plague US personnel, according to a report Wednesday from The Wall Street Journal.

The incidents, first reported in 2016 among US diplomats stationed in Havana, Cuba, tend to involve bizarre episodes of sonic and sensory experiences that are often described as directional. Afflicted diplomats develop symptoms including headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating and recalling words, permanent hearing loss, and speech problems. Medical experts examining some of the cases have found evidence of “injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma.” That is, sufferers appear to a have a concussion without a blow to the head.

Despite years of alarming reports and investigations into the cases, the cause of the incidents and who may be behind them remain a mystery—and cases continue to mount. News of the new task-force chief comes on the heels of a report from NBC News that the latest case count may be as high as 200. And though the incidents tend to be linked to Cuba—the condition is often referred to as “Havana Syndrome”—they have now been reported from every continent except Antarctica.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#cia, #concussions, #cuba, #espionage, #havana-syndrome, #health-attacks, #microwaves, #russia, #science, #traumatic-brain-injury

Yehuda Ben-Yishay, Pioneer in Treating Brain Injuries, Dies at 88

After working with wounded Israeli soldiers in the 1970s, he developed a holistic approach to helping patients regain some semblance of the life they had before.

#ben-yishay-yehuda-1933-2021, #deaths-obituaries, #new-york-university-langone-health, #psychology-and-psychologists, #traumatic-brain-injury

What happens to the brain on sudden impact? Egg yolks could hold the answer

A rotational deceleration experiment with egg yolk, using an egg scrambler and measuring the soft matter deformation, to find possible answers about concussions. (video link)

A growing number of professional football players have been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), likely the result of suffering repeated concussions or similar repetitive brain trauma over the course of their careers. It’s also common in other high-contact sports like boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and ice hockey. We might find clues about the underlying physics by studying the deformation of egg yolks, according to a new paper published in The Physics of Fluids. This in turn could one day lead to better prevention of such trauma.

Egg yolk submerged in liquid egg white encased in a hard shell is an example of what physicists call “soft matter in a liquid environment.” Other examples include the red blood cells that flow through our circulatory systems and our brains, surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CBR) inside a hard skull.  How much a type of soft matter deforms in response to external impacts is a key feature, according to Villanova University physicist Qianhong Wu and his co-authors on this latest study. They point to red blood cells as an example. It’s the ability of red blood cells to change shape under stress (“erythrocyte deformability) that lets them squeeze through tiny capillaries, for instance, and also triggers the spleen to remove red blood cells whose size, shape, and overall deformability have been too greatly altered.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#biology, #fluid-dynamics, #physics, #science, #traumatic-brain-injury

An Olympic Dream Is Reborn, Despite Fears of Brain Trauma

A.J. Edelman walked away from the hazards of sledding sports after he competed for Israel in the skeleton at the 2018 Winter Games. Now he is trying again in a bobsled.

#beijing-china, #israel, #olympic-games-2022, #traumatic-brain-injury

Army Agrees to Review Thousands of Unfavorable Discharges for Veterans

If approved by a federal judge, the settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit could result in thousands of veterans gaining access to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ full array of benefits.

#carson-alicia, #depression-mental, #kennedy-steve, #mental-health-and-disorders, #post-traumatic-stress-disorder, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #traumatic-brain-injury, #united-states-army, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #veterans, #veterans-affairs-department

This Sledding Team Trained Hard for Gold in 2010. Some Members Regret It.

In skeleton, the headfirst Olympic sledding sport, the opportunity for unlimited training on the track can be a huge advantage. But Canadian Olympians who had such access believe it was bad for their brains.

#alberta-canada, #concussions, #hollingsworth-mellisa, #mental-health-and-disorders, #olympic-games-2010, #royal-canadian-mounted-police, #skeleton-sport, #traumatic-brain-injury, #uhlaender-katie, #whistler-british-columbia