Study Questions Efficacy of Military Brain Injury Treatments

KD News reported this week on concerns being raised about the way that American service members who suffered brain injuries are being treated. As our Illinois brain injury lawyers have frequently noted, in many ways treatments for those who suffer head injuries are few and far between. The brain remains the most mysterious object in the human body, and medical experts are just now beginning to break through the unknown to figure out how it works. It will be a long time before more advanced techniques are available to figure out exactly how to repair previous damage.

However, even though there are few proven methods of fixing brain injuries, it remains imperative for all brain injury victims, include service members, to receive the best available treatment. Yet, as the article explains, that may not be the case. A new study from the Rand Corporations, which was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense, has found that many programs that were created to help those with these injuries have built in redundancies with poor communication between the various brain injury treatment programs.

The study authors recommend that centralization be prioritized to ensure maximum effectiveness. It is important to note that the report found that the there are many different programs to assist military service members dealing with traumatic brain injuries (and other complications, like post traumatic stress disorder). Yet, the study notes that their research “suggests that there is significant duplication of effort, both within and across branches of service.” The duplication makes it difficult to properly understand what treatments are effective and whether or not members are getting the exact care that they need. Responding to the report, the Department of Defense spokesperson explained that the study offers a framework by which program effectiveness can be evaluated and strengthened.

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury noted that there was a data-gap under the current system. Because a lot of unknowns remain in brain injury treatments, it is essential that proper documentation be made system-wide to determine what is or is not working. As one program participant noted, “very little is known about how all of these programs work collectively for our service members, veterans, and their families.” In total, less than one out every three of the over two hundred brain injury treatment program had an assessment system in place. Consequently, there is currently no way to ensure that victims are receiving the best care possible to treat their particular injury. Service members cannot be guaranteed perfect improvement, but they should be confident that all basic steps to make them well are being taken.

While there is certainly no guaranteed cure available to traumatic brain injury victims, our Chicago injury lawyers know that there is no reason why the knowledge that is available should not be used as appropriately as possible to help our service members as much as possible. In many cases, medical professionals will never be able to return a victim to normal following severe head trauma. However, timely, appropriate, and consistent treatment can prevent further deterioration of brain function, which may have huge implications on the life of the victim.

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