There is concern over the long-term mental health of military and ex-military personnel. While mental health is complex and multifactorial, it is increasingly recognised that exposure to repeated brain injury through blasts, combat training and other aspects of military service may be a risk factor. Do these brain injuries cause long-term organic brain disease? Only through examining the brains of generous donors after death will we get answers to this question.
What is the AVBB trying to achieve?
We do not currently know the prevalence of CTE or other brain diseases in Australian ex-military personnel. A definitive diagnosis of many brain diseases, including CTE, can only be made after death with examination of the whole brain.
The primary goal of the AVBB is to confirm the existence (and evaluate the prevalence) of CTE and associated pathologies (such as blood vessel and white matter injury) in Australian ex-military personnel and make this information available to the public and to policy makers. The other main goal of the AVBB is to facilitate research into the long-term effects of concussion, blast injuries and other trauma on the brain, with a view to developing new means of diagnosis of brain disease, its prevention, and its treatment.
Brain disease diagnosis
Brains that are donated to the AVBB will undergo a comprehensive and expert neuropathological examination and the results will be made available to family or loved ones via a nominated doctor.
Brain disease research
Brain tissue from donors is kept and stored in a way that will facilitate research into brain diseases for many decades to come. Research being pursued by the AVBB involves understanding the full impact of head injury, including blast injury, on the human nervous system. We would like to unravel the impact of genetic factors as well as environmental risk factors in modifying disease risk. We hope our research will lead to tests to diagnose CTE in living people, and ultimately treatment for this and other neurodegenerative conditions.