Veteran’s Day Health Note: Dealing With Traumatic Brain Injury

Bar graph of the incidence of mild traumatic b...
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For those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, mild traumatic brain injury is extremely common.  In the JRRD study from 2008, approximately 20% of veterans had symptoms of mild traumatic injury.  In 2008, that included 1.65 million servicemen and women.  The study estimated that approximately 320,000 experienced mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

For anyone unfamiliar with “mild” TBI, it can include unconsciousness of up to thirty minutes.  Afterward, in the best case, it takes up to a month to have clear brain functioning.  Even after a month, between 10 and 20 percent of individuals continue to experience post concussion syndrome.  Their brains look good on a scan, but they have a range of symptoms including: ” headaches, dizziness, depression, irritability, fatigue, and cognitive complaints.”  The syndrome also predisposes veterans to psychiatric illnesses.

No testing can clearly differentiate between these syndromes and other illnesses.  So let us all take a moment to remember the walking wounded, those who continue to give their lives every day.

As we reach the end of what the standard medical model can do, let’s look toward integrative medicine, to maximize the lives of our fallen warriors.

NeuroRehabilitation. 2010;26(3):257-69.

Enhanced neurorehabilitation techniques in the DVBIC Assisted Living Pilot Project.


Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc., Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center – Johnstown DVBIC/DCoE, Johnstown, PA, USA.


Traumatic Brain Injury has been labeled the “silent epidemic” in our current wars. Both CBO and the RAND reports predict that the costs of these injuries will be both extensive and enduring. The projected costs are based not only upon the loss contribution of these warriors to our economy, but also the long-term medical and assistive care that will be needed to support these veterans for decades to come. Thus, the primary goal of the Assisted Living Pilot Project (ALPP) at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center – Johnstown (DVBIC-J) is to promote the ability of the injured warrior to move from assisted living to living independently and to be self-supporting by providing a continuum of care. To accomplish this goal the DVBIC-J ALPP is providing full set of traditional services (physical, occupational, speech, psychological/cognitive, social/familial, vocational, and spiritual), along with “cutting-edge” rehabilitative treatment technologies. These cutting-edge therapies include transdisciplinary clinical consultations, interactive patient and family counseling, and telemedicine-teleconferencing for clinical evaluations and family/significant other care participation. These services will be available to those who require assisted living through their progression to community re-entry. The ALPP also serves as a vehicle for clinical trials to investigate the effects of an enriched environment (e.g., recreational therapies, massage, multisensory stimulation, etc.) on neurorehabilitation therapy, rural telemedicine for servicemembers with traumatic brain injury, and long-term outcome measures of those who have received neurorehabilitation services at the DVBIC-J site. DVBIC-J is also developing collaborative projects with universities and private industry to create an incubator for new rehabilitation technologies. The technologies that DVBIC-J will be focusing on will include assistive technologies (to assist cognitive, physical, and communicative impairments), virtual and augmented reality simulations (for both diagnosis and treatment of TBI and PTSD), and telecommunication technologies to improve rehabilitation services to those warriors that have returned to their homes in rural areas.

PMID: 20448315



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