TAMC offers care for traumatic brain injuries, conditions

| March 18, 2011 | 0 Comments

Nick Spinelli
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs



HONOLULU — March has been named as Brain Injury Awareness Month to bring attention to and encourage the treatment for a suspected or known brain injury.

But what exactly is a brain injury, and why is it traumatic?

For starters, severe traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is the most publicized. This type of injury can lead to permanent memory loss, decreased cognitive functions, seizures, comas and even death.

However, mild TBI is far more common and is known as a concussion.

“When you’re dazed, confused or knocked out after some kind of injury to your brain, that’s a concussion,” said Dr. Sarah Miyahira, TBI program director, Tripler Army Medical Center. “It can happen because of a blow to the head, a fall or an improvised explosive device explosion.”

The symptoms of a concussion can vary, although the most common ones are feeling dazed or confused, seeing stars or a loss of consciousness.

“Most people will feel slowed down, mentally and physically, for a while after a concussion,” Miyahira said. “They may feel dizzy or notice that their balance is off. They may have a headache or feel a bit nauseated.

Miyahira said there is no such thing as a minor brain injury, and while the symptoms are normal for a concussion and usually pass after a few days, it’s still important for anyone who may be suffering from a concussion to get it checked out.

Left untreated, a concussion can lead to further injury and could potentially become life threatening.

Currently, Tripler Army Medical Center’s Concussion/TBI Clinic is actively treating 200 patients, who were diagnosed with TBI based on the answers to three questions:

1) Did you have any injury(ies) during your deployment from any of the following?

2) Did any injury received while you were deployed result in any of the following?

3) Are you currently experiencing any of the following problems that you think might be related to a possible head injury or concussion?

Answers to these questions can help determine whether a patient has TBI, as well as its severity. From there, providers determine a course of treatment.

The treatment of TBI often includes four stages: immediate, intermediate, rehabilitation and transitional, according to Gregg Husky, TBI program administrator, TAMC.

“The treatment in each stage will depend on how bad the brain injury is and the physical condition of the patient at each stage,” Husky said. “If the injury is detected and treated early, most patients will have improvement in brain function and return to some level of a productive life.”

Husky said that patients recover at their own pace and to different degrees, depending on the number and type of injuries. Patients shouldn’t get frustrated or embarrassed by their injuries or if they feel they aren’t recovering quickly enough.

“The stigma of having a TBI or a concussion is no longer a valid reason for not seeking treatment,” Husky said. “All service members and others who have been subjected to, or think they have been subjected to brain injury, should seek help as soon as possible from the nearest treatment facility.”

Brain Injury Awareness Month events
To learn more about TBI, visit www.dvbic.org, www.tbiguide.com or www.headbraininjuries.com.

Tripler Army Medical Center
TBI banners/posters will be posted at the Oceanside entrance and in the dining facility. An open house is 1-3 p.m., March 24, Room 9B114. Everyone is invited attend.

Schofield Barracks Health Clinic
The TBI-Concussion Clinic will display education materials, March 21-25. The TBI-Concussion Clinic will also host a Brain Injury Awareness open house throughout the week. Everyone is invited to stop by.

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Category: Community, Health, Safety

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