Army Works to Improve Response to Combat-Related Brain Injuries

National Public Radio published an interesting story this week that summarizes the current state of research into ways to help returning service members that have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Thousands of soldiers have fallen victim to these injuries, which are often caused by hard knocks taken when in proximity to bomb blasts. Roadside bombs and other shellings are common in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and so traumatic brain injuries have been called the “signature” wound of these wars.

One soldier profiled for the story explains how he suffered one of his injuries-a tale shared by many fellow soldiers. He explained, “I was in the lead vehicle, which hit an IED [improvised explosive device]. I hit my head, blacked out for a little bit.” At first the man just shook off the wound. After all, they were in the heat of battle and had to pursue the fighter who had placed the device there in the first place. However, eventually, when things settled down a bit, he began feeling the aftereffects on the brain injury. When he was examined by a medic it became clear that he need to seek treatment immediately.

Unfortunately, like many victims in other circumstances, our Illinois brain injury lawyers know that many soldiers do not receive proper treatment following one of these situations. This is likely due in large part to the fact that traumatic brain injuries are not visible on the outside. They are caused by the violent shaking of the head which leads the brain to bump repeatedly on the inside of the skull. Symptoms are incredibly varied and may not manifest for a while after the actual trauma. In many cases the long-term effects of the injury can be avoided if proper treatment is sought. However, when they treatment is neglected then serious problems can develop.

Observers admit that in the past the U.S. Army did not have a terrific track record of spotting traumatic brain injuries and ensuring that soldiers received necessary treatment. They are working to change that. However, our brain injury attorneys appreciate that there remains a very large problem in properly diagnosing traumatic brain injuries. Medical professionals have not yet developed a system that can determine perfectly whether one has a head injury. Many are hopeful that one day a blood test or brain scan can be developed which might show without question whether a TBI has been suffered. Until that time, those involved have to use less exact tools.

A major general in the Army explains, “What are we going to do immediately? Immediately we gotta identify these guys as soon as we can, get them out of the fight. Because we know that for concussion, the best thing to do immediately is taken them away from the insult, rest them, let their brain recover.”

This is the same approach that doctors use in all settings, including with athletes, in an effort to prevent long term complications from head trauma. It is important that this approach be followed 100% of the time. Lives literally hang in the balance, and so there is no room for error.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Study Questions Efficacy of Military Brain Injury Treatments

Brain Injury Therapy Available for Iraqi War Veterans

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