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Army Study Reports One In Five Brain Injuries Go Unrecognized

In a study released yesterday, the Army has confirmed that Up to 20 percent of U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered mild concussions but were unaware of them and did not get treatment.

The study reports that the Army has a hard time identifying and treating affected troops because the soldiers and Marines don't recognize the symptoms and don't report them.

"The Army is challenged to understand, diagnose and treat military personnel who suffer with mild TBI," said Brig. Gen. Donald Bradshaw, who leads the Army's TBI task force.

In addition to recognizing the common symptoms of a concussion such as headaches, dizziness, sleep disorders, nausea or memory problems, the Army is now alerting soldiers and their families to the psychological consequences of closed head injury such as irritability, anxiety and depression.

The earlier that these soldiers recognize and report their symptoms, the earlier that they can get treatment.  Just as important, soldiers who are still on active duty need to know that these symptoms are important to report so that they are not exposed to a second head injury before they fully recover from the initial injury they received.




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Patricia Block

In the article, "Concern mounts over rising troop suicides" (CNN, Feb. 3, 2008), why is there no mention of traumatic brain injury (TBI)?


According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, a research and treatment agency run by the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department, 64 percent of injured troops have suffered brain injuries. Several hallmark symptoms - i.e., post-head injury cognitive and psychosocial deficits - of TBI include depression and suicide ideation.

When will the U.S. Army start paying attention to and treating the men and women who suffer psychological warfare as a result of the physical trauma their brain experienced while serving as a soldier in Iraq? (or Afghanistan or....)
Dr. Henry Lew of the Palo Alto VA Hospital says it is a very common scenario. “You don't see shrapnel or bullets or open injuries. But the inside of the brain has been damaged to a point that it affects the daily function.”

Veterans Affairs psychologist Harriet Zeiner says that often people will think a brain-injured vet is depressed or suffering from post-traumatic stress. “It's really important that individuals out in the public know that it's entirely possible for someone who's been in the combat theater to have a head injury and not know it.”

We must insist that the U.S. Army start taking care of its own.

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