Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What You Need to Know about TBI

The following information was presented at a recent ICF International Event on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) attended by ROA legislative intern Courtney Whiteman.


TBI is defined by DoD as a “traumatically induced structural injury or physiological disruption of brain function as a result of an external force.” Usually, TBI is caused by a foreign object striking or penetrating one’s head. However, events without direct trauma to the head, such as rapid acceleration or deceleration movements or blasts, can also cause TBI.

Scope of the Problem:

According to DoD, 202,281 members of the Armed Forces suffered from TBI between 2000 and 2010.


Symptoms of TBI can be physical, emotional, or cognitive. Some of the most common symptoms include decreased consciousness; loss of memory; neurological deficits such as weakness or loss of balance; and the manifestation of other psychological disorders.

Difficulty Identifying & Treating TBI:

A major obstacle to effective treatment of TBI is providing adequate screening and identification for the injury. The condition often goes unidentified for a number of reasons. One is the stigma attached to mental and psychological injuries, especially among service members. A pervasive lack of understanding creates the misperception that these types of injuries are less legitimate than purely physical injuries. Those closest to these returning veterans often mistakenly attribute changes in behavior to symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These types of confusions can lead to costly delays in proper treatment. Family, friends, and employers of veterans should gain familiarity with the symptoms of TBI and be wary of the distinction.

Also, the high rate of co-morbidity seen in victims of TBI can greatly complicate the diagnosis of TBI. A study carried out by a Boston-area VA reported that of all soldiers who complained of TBI, chronic pain, or PTSD, 42.1% suffered from all three. Overlapping ailments can make it extremely difficult to determine exactly which injuries or disorders a veteran suffers from, as well as how to treat them all simultaneously and effectively.
Because of the difficulties in treatment and the lack of knowledge about TBI, there is no definitive treatment for those who suffer from this injury, and little has been done to find one.

ROA’s Support for Alternative Treatments:

ROA advocates the use of alternative treatments, particularly hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), to combat TBI in returning veterans. HBOT is the medical use of pure oxygen at a level of pressure much higher than atmospheric pressure. Little research or funding for HBOT has been carried out, as the VA and DoD maintain that there is no conclusive evidence that it is effective. However, in anecdotal studies, several patients have reported vast improvements in their cognitive function, physical health, and mental health. ROA strongly supports increased funding for the research of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and other alternative treatments for TBI. If effectively utilized, these treatments may be a pivotal resource in allowing veterans to successfully transition to civilian life after deployment.


Anonymous said...

Appreciate the background information and ROA's efforts to get alternative and new treatments authorized for injured Vets. You guys are always looking out for us--please keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Is there any information on increase of Prostate cancer stage 4
met. to bone from Desert Storm or Camp Lejune con. water. I have no history of cancer in my family.

Juliette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juliette said...

TBI/PTSD is being treated with the Harch Protocol by Dr Paul Harch. The average increase in IQ in 4 weeks of HBOT is 15 points, and a 30% reduction in PTSD symptoms. Thank you for your support of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. HBOT stimulates the growth of new blood vessels into the damaged tissue of the brain. This pilot study was sanctioned by LSU School of Medicine IRB#7051. People with TBI need to seek out this treatment and obtain this life altering therapy as soon as they can. Your site is lovely & informative.

Best Health Plan said...

Appreciate the history and ROA's initiatives to get alternative and new therapies approved for harmed Investigates.