While often the cost of war is associated with the rows of grave stones, and coffins covered with American flags, with the amputees sporting prosthetic devices, an with the burn victims who’s features are now unrecognizable. There is another population of servicemen and women who suffer along with their families. That population represents those suffering from PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) This article will focus on the latter.
What is TBI?
TBI according to the Brain injury association of America is defined as “…an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force.”
So a blow, bump, impact and especially an explosion may cause a closed head injury (a head injury with no visible signs to occur. )
This means a person with no visible signs of injury, or loss of consciousness may in fact be injured. Do to the traumatic forces being withstood by their brain. Explosions are especially dangerous due to the force of the explosion striking not only the service members exterior but it also travels through the service member impacting the heart, lungs, kidneys, and yes the brain. There is no armor or helmet that can protect from that massive wave of high pressure. In fact with the prevalence of IED’s (improvised explosive devices) used in Iraq and Afghanistan TBI has become the signature injury of those wars.
What does all this mean?
It means that there are service members who have suffered injury that show no physical symptoms of injury walking around. But the injury is still very real, and because it is not obvious, it often goes under-treated.
Effects of TBI, according to the CDC the impacts of this type of injury affect thinking, sensation language and emotion. This means that service members sporting no signs of injury can be severely impaired and have personality shifts that drastically alter the person who they are. If you are a service member, or a relative of one, and there is a noticeably shift in behavior, or a noted decline in skills (things that were easy now are difficult such as making decisions, and problem solving.)Then TBI may well be a factor some of the signs and symptoms of a mild TBI are
- Headaches or neck pain that does not go away.
- Light-headedness, dizziness or loss of balance.
- Urge to vomit (nausea).
- Loss of sense of smell or taste.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions.
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading.
- Getting lost or easily confused.
- Feeling tired all of the time and having no energy or motivation.
- Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason).
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping).
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds or distractions.
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily.
For more severe cases, all of the above applies with the addition of
- Headache that gets worse or does not go away.
- Repeated vomiting or nausea.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Inability to awaken from sleep.
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes.
- Slurred speech.
- Weakness or numbness in the extremities.
- Loss of coordination.
- Increased confusion, restlessness or agitation
The following links are resources for those who are interested in learning more about TBI
Brain injury association of America: http://www.biausa.org/about-brain-injury.htm
Defense and veterans injury brain center: http://www.dvbic.org/
Center for disease control: http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/causes.html