What do I need to know about TBI?

In recent years the awareness of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among vets has increased thanks to improved diagnostics and increased vigilance substantially. Currently, the Department of Defense estimates that 22% of casualties in combat from Iraq and Afghanistan are from TBI. 

In comparison, only 12% of vets from Vietnam found the same relation. 

traumatic brain injury

What causes TBI?

TBI is often caused by explosive blasts. However, it can also occur from any impact to the head, whether it be a from a fist or other object. 

The diagnosis of a Traumatic Brain Injury ranges from Mild to Moderate or Severe. 

Mild TBI is typically referred to as a concussion. This is the most difficult to diagnose. Also, a full recovery may occur within minutes or hours. 

Moderate TBI is where the most variability of symptoms occurs. Often it is followed by a loss of consciousness anywhere from an hour to a full day. Usually, confusion lasts for days or weeks, and other issues can be permanent.

WIth Severe TBI there is usually a significant head injury (such as an automobile accident) that is the cause. More often than not, it is followed by substantial losses in brain function, including impacts on speech, vision, attention, memory, and concentration. 

While the military immediately screens anyone suspected of incurring a TBI, it is possible to have gone undetected, especially if mild or moderate. 

This is why it is crucial to know the possible symptoms to know if you may need to request another screening for benefits. 

How do I know if I have a brain injury?

Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury can manifest as emotional or behavioral problems. The truth is that there are no standard symptoms as the brain is incredibly complex, and there is still much research being done in regards to how it is affected by injuries. 

For some people, the symptoms of TBI may not become apparent for weeks or months, making it easy to ignore them or minimize them. 

It is dangerous for TBI to go untreated, as symptoms may get progressively worse. TBI can directly impact your health, your relationships, and your lifestyle. 

If you have noticed any of the following symptoms since your time of enlistment, you should seek a thorough assessment:

●    Acting impulsively

●    Overwhelming sadness or anxiety

●    Unusual sleeping habits

●    Tiredness

●    The trouble with concentration and focus

●    A feeling of something wrong with self

●    Taking more prescription drugs than usual

●    Using illicit drugs for coping

●    Heightened alcohol use

All of these are possible warning signs of a likely TBI. 

What is the treatment for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

The good news is that many veterans do receive effective treatment for their TBI. During the evaluation, there will be a discussion of what may have caused the injury. There may also be a discussion of how to deal with the symptoms and how they affect your life. 

Counseling may be recommended, and finally, medications may be prescribed to assist in recovery. 

In the meantime, if you are dealing with any of these symptoms, you can start your recovery by getting enough rest and resuming your life responsibilities at a modest pace. Avoid pushing yourself too hard and stay within your comfort level for other activities. Then pay careful attention to how you are affected as you gradually increase your activity levels. 

Most people can reach full recovery from TBI when they take it seriously. 

In the meantime, get your butt to the doctor and get this documented!! Check out this video from Lara describing the process of going to the doctor and getting your paperwork filed for a VA Claim.

Richard Shuminsky is our Chief Technology Officer, VCM Lead, and an Air Force disabled Veteran. Ready to work with him? You can sign up here or you can contact him at [email protected]

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