Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month is a time to educate individuals on the importance of prevention and treatment of these types of injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.
Military service members are deployed to areas where they may be subjected to blast explosions which can cause TBI and, therefore are at a greater risk for sustaining a TBI than civilian counterparts. According to a study conducted by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 30 percent of all service members requiring medical evacuation from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom from January 2003 through January 2007 suffered some form of TBI. A TBI is not limited to an injury involving a blast, but may also result from a fall, assault or motor vehicle accident.
What exactly is a traumatic brain injury? A TBI is a disturbance of the normal functioning of the brain that is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body.
Falls are the leading cause of TBIs in the United States, accounting for approximately 47 percent of all TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths, according to the CDC.
The severity of a TBI ranges from mild to severe. A TBI may be classified as mild if there is a loss of consciousness and/or confusion for a few seconds to minutes, feelings of confusion, disorientation, and problems with speech. A moderate to severe TBI involves a loss of consciousness for several minutes or hours, persistent headache, vomiting/nausea, and seizures. The majority of reported TBIs in the United States are mild, accounting for approximately 75 percent of brain injuries seen in emergency departments, according to BrainandSpinalCord.org.
In efforts to diagnose and treat service members with TBI, the Defense Department implemented the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metric. The ANAM is a computer-based test system that assesses neuropsychological functioning. The purpose of the ANAM is to form a cognitive baseline for deploying military members. With this baseline, we are able to tell if the member has any neuropsychological impairments as a result of their deployment.
Although all brain injuries can’t be prevented, there are certain things one can do to lower the chances of sustaining one. Prevention includes doing things such as wearing a seatbelt while in a moving vehicle and never driving under the influence.
Available resources for professionals, persons with brain injuries and their family members:
• The National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury
• Brain Injury Association of America
• Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
• National Institutes of Health