TBI: A Department of Defense Special Report

A High Definition map of brain fibers. Photo Courtesy of News.Discovery.com.

Almost everything you’ll need to know about traumatic brain injury (TBI) including research, diagnosis and treatment: A Department of Defense Special Report.

  • A study looking at treating mild TBI: The Study of Cognitive Rehabilitation Effectiveness, is examining the value of cognitive rehabilitation therapy treatment for service members with mild TBI.The goal is to find the best treatment for combat troops who are experiencing mild TBI symptoms — such as difficulties with attention, concentration, memory and judgment — three to 24 months post-injury.
  • A study that looks at the link between TBI and PTSD: Service members who suffer mild traumatic brain injuries in combat and then struggle with depression, irritability, alcohol abuse and similar problems after they return home most likely are experiencing post-traumatic stress, rather than brain injury symptoms, according to a new study that tracked Minnesota National Guard soldiers during the last month of their 16-month deployment to Iraq, then again a year after they returned home.
  • The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center provides links and resources to active duty members, veterans and their families: TBI Facts; how Family and Friends can help; information on Sports vs. Military concussions.

Although I found some of the articles were published more than a year ago, the resources and links of this aggregating page are useful: DoD Special Report on TBI.

For some great visuals that show the complexity of the brain’s nerve network in high definition, check out Discovery News online.

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Invisible Injuries Getting Second Look

Several years ago, a VA physician taught me about invisible injuries.” His experience started when he was teaching wounded warriors how to put on prosthetic devices to replace their missing limbs. But many had trouble remembering his instructions from one day to the next.

A closer look uncovered Traumatic Brain Injuries or TBI. The wounded warrior had no physical head wounds, but the impact of the explosive device that took their limbs also jarred their brains.

There are thousands of military members who survived an explosive device with no outward wounds. Their “invisible wounds” or brain injuries got little or no attention and were rarely considered a “wound” worthy of a Purple Heart.

A recent Air Force Times article, posted March 26, 2011, reports that attitudes may be changing. Below is a portion of that story, the full article can be read here.

Air Force Times

The services are engaged in a long overdue effort to clarify rules for the Purple Heart, one of the military’s most coveted medals.

All four branches are studying an Army-led push to declare that troops who suffer concussions as a result of combat actions are entitled to a Purple Heart.

That means, for example, that soldiers in a vehicle that hits a bomb buried in the road qualify if they suffer a concussion.

In theory, the rules already allow for that. But in practice, it’s clear that few such head injuries have earned wounded service members a Purple Heart…

…. This is not just about hanging a ribbon on troops. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli hopes that giving Purple Hearts for invisible injuries will help remove the stigma that often keeps troops from seeking the medical help they need to recover from concussions as well as post-traumatic stress — injuries that too often have been mistaken by commanders as signs of malingering or poor attitude.

If he’s right, perhaps these awards will result in something even more meaningful: helping to reduce the number of suicides, divorces and domestic violence incidents that plague troops coming home from the war zones.

Wars’ Impact on Children Webinar and More

The  webinar, Indirect Neurotrauma: The Impact of War on Children, is set for April 28th and one of the 2011 monthly series scheduled by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The online sessions offer an opportunity to “dialogue” with experts in various fields from both government and non-governmental organizations as well as listing a range of resources.

This is the second year the Webinars are being offered. Audio from 2010 Webinars also is available on topics like”Sports, the Military and Recurrent Concussion” and “Case Studies of Successful State Reintegration.”

Here’s the 2011 schedule:

Jan. 27: Peer-to-Peer Support Model Program

Feb. 24: Compassion Fatigue

March 24: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Co-occurring Psychological Health Disorders:
Focus on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury with Co-occurring Psychological Health
Disorders Toolkit

April 28: Indirect Neurotrauma: The Impact of War on Children

May 26: Operational Stress and In Theater Care

June 23: Anatomical/Physiological Changes Secondary to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

July 28: Reintegrative Medicine: Focusing on Family and Clinical Perspective, and
Adaptation Following Incident

Aug. 25: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Natural Disasters

Sept. 22: Neuropathophysiology of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Oct. 27: Generational Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Growth

Nov. 17: Holidays Apart from Family

December: No event due to the holidays

What better way to end 2010 than with “A Creed for a Comrade” – this video produced by the Defense Centers for Excellence:

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