Magazine article Soldiers Magazine

Traumatic Brain Injury: Understanding TBI

Magazine article Soldiers Magazine

Traumatic Brain Injury: Understanding TBI

Article excerpt

THE Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center treats and researches traumatic brain injuries, the dominant wounds of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Headquartered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the DVBIC operates nine sites across the country that treat patients suffering from mild, moderate and severe TBI; develop guidelines for care; study the prevalence of TBI; and conduct research to help future patients. DVBIC officials also frequently address the difference between TBI and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"It's impossible not to be changed by war," said Dr. Deborah Warden, DVBIC's national director. And determining what behavior is stress related and what has to do with a previous concussion is difficult.

TBIs and PTSD share such common symptoms as difficulty concentrating, memory problems and irritability. TBI symptoms can also include headaches, dizziness and balance problems. A person suffering from PTSD may experience increasing anxiety, and may have frequent nightmares that often involve the reoccurrence of traumatic events.

Ms. Kathy Helmick, acting deputy director of Clinical and Educational Affairs at DVBIC, said diagnosis of a TBI is usually made when someone is first injured. But treatments for PTSD and TBI are the same. They include sleep, proper nutrition, and support from friends and loved ones.

Soldiers who have suffered a mild TBI must avoid a second head injury, Dr. Warden said, because, while the brain can recover from one mild TBI, two TBIs in quick succession have a cumulative effect that cannot be treated as easily with rest. …

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