2017-03-17 / News Update

Keep in mind it’s Brain Injury Awareness Month

BY WESLEY P. ELLIOTT
U.S. Army Medical Command

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and although traumatic brain injuries are the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, TBIs can be caused by motor vehicle accidents, assaults, falls, and sport injuries, as well as explosions.

It is important for someone who had sustained a TBI to seek medical help to address any changes in their physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities.

“Someone doesn’t have to lose consciousness when they suffer a mild TBI, there can be a feeling of being dazed or seeing stars but in some cases it can involve a very brief loss of consciousness which can last for a few seconds to a few minutes, but is typically less than 30 minutes, said Dr. Aparna Vijayan, Speech-Language Pathologist at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic.

After a mild TBI, patients can experience cognitive issues including difficulty with concentration, memory, perception, problem solving, comprehension, word selection, sequencing, and slower than normal responses. Cognitive problems can often cause patients to avoid social and recreational activities that they previously enjoyed.

“Fortunately, the brain is a resilient organ, and individuals who have sustained a mild TBI are likely to return to their normal abilities within two to 12 weeks after the injury, said Vijayan. “For some, the issues may persist for longer causing headaches, pain issues, mood or sleep disturbances and a speech therapist or occupational therapist can provide strategies and resources to help improve the cognitive abilities after injury.”

Army Medicine has specialized clinics, neuroscience and rehabilitation centers, that treat Soldiers and family members who have sustained a mild concussion.

TBI Clinics utilize a multidisciplinary team including physiatrists, neurologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, recreational therapists and social workers to provide a well-coordinated and individualized treatment plan to all TBI patients.

Three-weeklong outpatient programs or Functional Recovery Programs are also available, which offer both an understanding of the symptoms and what can be done about them, while being administered in a group setting, enabling the participants to find support from other patients.

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