Since 2000, over 400,000 military troops and veterans have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In March, the Defense Health Agency’s Defense and Veteran’s Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is shining a light on the impact of TBIs, as well as honoring the strength of wounded warriors and their caregivers.
Spotlighting the Visible Impacts of Hidden Brain Injuries
Thousands of veterans, from World War II to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been diagnosed and treated for TBIs.
With medical progress and more understanding about how the brain works, there has been more compassion and wider treatment options. However, today’s veterans and troops with TBIs still need support from their families, medical teams and their communities as they heal and move forward.
Throughout March, the DVBIC will highlight resources aimed at preventing and recovery from TBIs, as well as inspiring stories from survivors. Learn more at A Head for the Future.
Resources for Troops & Veterans
One of the first steps to treating TBI is recognizing the symptoms as early as possible. To help, the DVBIC offers a checklist of possible symptoms.
It’s also important to be aware of the co-occurrence of TBI and PTSD. Both result from traumatic experiences and can impact your overall health for years.
Once you suspect that a TBI might be impacting your health, it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible in order to begin treatments. While TBIs are life-altering, there is hope for recovery with a variety of medical, surgical and other interventions.
Bottom line: getting a handle on your TBI requires awareness and action
Hidden Brain Injury Resources for Families
TBIs impact the entire family, from spouses to kids. From pre-diagnosis through recovery, getting the entire family on-board is essential.
DVBIC has resources to help start the conversation. Their guide to talking to kids about TBI is essential reading for any family dealing with the diagnosis.
For caregivers, it’s important that you have resources at your fingertips, both to support your loved one and to support yourself.
As you start down this journey, it’s important to understand what TBI means for your loved one as well as what it means to you. Using the DVBIC’s learning modules for caregivers and family members, you’ll feel more prepared to support your veteran or service member.
It’s also important to know that while you’re focused on caring for others, it’s equally vital that you take time for yourself, too. Practicing self-care makes you more effective and empathetic towards others.
Resources for Everyone
Knowing where to turn is essential. It’s important for veterans with TBIs, for caregivers and for families.
Use these resources to get help and have tough conversations, together.
- Elizabeth Dole Foundation: supporting caregivers of wounded warriors
- TBI Warrior Foundation: offering rehab counseling and caregiver training
- Brain Trauma Foundation: leading cutting-edge brain trauma research since 1986
- BrainLine Military: a military-specific organization providing resources and support
- Our Daddy is Invincible: a book by Shannon Maxwell to help children understand TBI in their parents
- In An Instant: Lee and Bob Woodruff share their story of TBI and its impact on their lives
Hope for Recovery
No matter where you are on the journey, it’s important to know that there is hope of recovery.
DVBIC is sharing inspiring stories of veterans who have gone on to do great things after TBI.
Check out all of the videos at A Head for the Future!
Veterans have gone back to school, literally climbed to great heights and provided support to other veterans with TBIs.
Preventing Future TBIs
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to TBIs, this is extra true.
Head injuries can occur in unexpected places, as well as in more conventional settings. That’s why it’s important to properly protect your head.
When riding a bike, skating or doing similar activities, it’s vital to always wear a properly fitted helmet. Helmets are also a must when riding in an ATV or on a motorcycle. In fact, any activity that involves high speeds or great heights needs proper safety equipment, starting with a helmet.
Driving is another leading cause of TBIs from impact injuries and crashes. Using seatbelts and following vehicle safety instructions regarding airbags or child seat placement is critical.
Slips, trips and falls in the workplace or around the home can also cause severe TBI. Wet floors, debris and poor lighting can lead to serious tumbles. For homes with young children, it’s important to secure heavy furniture to walls and block stairs with safety gates.
While combat or blast-related TBI are not 100% preventable, injuries on the homefront are sometimes easier to avoid with a little bit of forethought and care.