Awareness can help prevent brain injuries

| March 4, 2011 | 0 Comments

Joanne Hsu
U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional)

USAPHC

USAPHC

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Brain injuries are major health concerns in the military, specifically traumatic brain injuries, or TBI.

Twelve percent of troops — about 320,000, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan — reported experiencing TBI.

TBI is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. A concussion is often also used to describe TBIs. Symptoms of TBI include headaches, dizziness, tiredness, trouble concentrating, forgetting things, irritability, balance problems, trouble sleeping and changes in vision.

Service members need to be aware of TBI and its symptoms, because it is easy for TBI to be overlooked by a doctor. The reason is often because brain injury symptoms may not be apparent until weeks or months after a traumatic event. This fact is especially true with closed-head trauma where there are no visible effects, such as bleeding or a broken skull.

TBI is hard to distinguish from other emotional or behavioral problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

“These are the first wars (Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom) in which Soldiers, protected by strong armor and rapid medical care, routinely survive explosions at close range and then return to combat,” according to the New York Times.

Many unknowns still prevail about injuries to the brain, as a result of blasts or explosions. However, explosions or blasts are the leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.

As March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, now’s a good time for Soldiers to review how to protect against brain injuries:

•Wear a helmet or other appropriate head gear while on patrol or in other high-risk areas.

•Wear safety belts when traveling in vehicles.

•Check for obstacles and loose debris before climbing/rappelling down buildings or other structures.

•Maintain clean and orderly work environments that are free of debris.

•Be aware of what is on the ground, at all times, especially when aircraft rotors are turning.

•Use care when walking on wet, oily or sandy surfaces.

•Employ the buddy system when climbing ladders or working at heights.

 

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Category: Army News Service, Community, Health

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