Back to Top Skip to main content

Brain Injury Awareness Part 3: Treatment puts TBI victim on road to recovery

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Colin Woodside on the long road to recovery after suffering a severe traumatic brain injury. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Colin Woodside on the long road to recovery after suffering a severe traumatic brain injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

A 50-foot fall during a recreational rock climbing weekend in October 2014 left Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Colin Woodside with a severe traumatic brain injury. His path of treatment and recovery now spans nearly three years and counting.

The first steps in his treatment were the measures taken by medics on the ground and doctors at the hospital to stabilize him and recognize the need for surgery to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain. After being released from the hospital in Washington state, Woodside was sent home to San Diego for the next phase of treatment.

“I met with a neurologist who said, ‘Colin, it’s going to take a very long time for you to recover,’” said Woodside. “At the time, my head was so scrambled I thought, ‘No, I’m fine. I’m walking.’ I wanted to get back to work. But I realized very quickly, he was right.”

Woodside’s mother improvised flash cards to speed her son’s recovery.Woodside’s mother improvised flash cards to speed her son’s recovery.

Part of Woodside’s treatment included card and thinking games to help with the cognitive portion of his recovery. More recent treatment included Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, a process to help the right and left sides of the brain “talk” to each other. For example, flashing dots on a screen or, as in Woodside’s case, vibrating pads on each hand help the patient engage the different sides of the brain.

The Military Health System addresses several areas of TBI, before and after injury: prevention, screening, treatment, and recovery. Many people with the mildest form of TBI – commonly called a concussion – can be helped with treatments as simple as resting and giving the body a chance to recover. Those with the most severe injuries, like Woodside, receive care at specialized clinics in the MHS. Depending on capacity and TBI care available in the local community, some family members receive care at military specialty clinics

“Patients (primarily active duty members) with very complex symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, headaches, and slowed thinking, get treatment from interdisciplinary teams at TBI clinics, such as the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Maryland,” said Dr. Katharine Stout, director of clinical affairs and a physical therapist at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. In addition to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, there are multiple centers across the country designed to deliver interdisciplinary TBI care, as well as embark on cutting-edge research, said Stout.

Medical, rehabilitation, and behavioral health specialists at these centers support service members after TBI. The length of support varies based on the injury and care needed. There are intensive outpatient programs that range from three to 16 weeks based on the facility and patient population and the ability at the command level to support these programs.  Treatment options include physical and occupational therapies, as well as care for psychological, speech, and neurological issues. Specialists also evaluate the effectiveness of complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, art, and music therapy, which are available at certain military facilities.

“We need to understand the impact of many disorders after a concussion,” said Stout. “Sometimes the symptoms are subtle to the layperson. Having all of these people on the team to evaluate the person as a whole allows them to look at it from all angles and interact with each other to come up with the best treatment plan.”

Woodside isn’t alone in the military in this process of treatment and recovery from TBI. Since 2000, more than 360,000 service members have been affected by these injuries, although the vast majority of TBIs are mild and happen away from combat. Woodside feels the care he received and continues to receive is making all the difference.

“I feel like a whole new person, compared to how I did two and a half years ago,” he said.

In the final part in this series, Woodside talks about his road to recovery. See his full story on DVBIC’s A Head for the Future website.

You also may be interested in...

Pilot Program on Investigational Treatment of Members of the Armed Forces for TBI and PTSD

Congressional Testimony

HR 3304, NDAA for FY 2014, Sec. 704

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Physical Disability | Mental Health Care | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Labyrinth: This path is made for mindful walking

Wounded warriors at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence are introduced to the indoor labyrinth during early days of their four-week intensive outpatient treatment program. (Photo courtesy of NICoE)

NICoE uses ancient symbol to promote healing

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Traumatic Brain Injury | Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy

Air Force's first Invisible Wounds Center opens

Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, Air Force Surgeon General, talks with a veteran during a tour of the Air Force’s first Invisible Wounds Center at the Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The IWC will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The center will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries

Recommended Content:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Traumatic Brain Injury

Healthy sleep for healing

Sleep is an important factor in health. In addition to aiding in the healing of the body after injury, studies suggest that sleep can help boost the immune system, prevent disease, and ease depression. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. John Hall)

We know how to treat bad sleep

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Sleep

For children who get concussions, brain rest is best

Christian Macias runs in a combat fitness test modified for children at a “bring your child to work day” event at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. (U.S. Marine Corp photo by Sgt. N.W. Huertas)

Most recover fully, but it may take longer to heal

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Traumatic Brain Injury

Identification of brain injuries in deployed environment surged after enactment of DoD policies

Graphic logo for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

Researchers compared the number of TBIs before and after introduction of new policies aimed at screening for and identifying deployment-related TBIs

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

The relentless winter poses risk for head injuries

With each storm during the winter and spring months, falls due to weather conditions or recreational activities can occur, increasing the risk for a traumatic brain injury. Prevention through safety measures, such as taking extra time to get around during icy conditions, and being aware of surroundings, can help reduce risk. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Whether snowboarding or walking on an icy sidewalk, winter conditions and sports can pose an increased risk for traumatic brain injuries

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Traumatic Brain Injury

First-ever blood test for detecting brain injury cleared by FDA

Research found two proteins rapidly appear in the blood following a blow or jolt to the head when a serious traumatic brain injury occurs.  Now there is a blood test that can identify whether the proteins are in the blood or not. With the blood test as a diagnostic tool, medical professionals can rule out more serious brain injuries while evaluating someone with a suspected concussion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland)

Research funded by the DoD and U.S. Army breaks ground on brain injury diagnostics

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center Celebrates 25 Years

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center Celebrates 25 Years

Katherine Helmick, DVBIC acting national director, discusses DVBIC achievements and goals to advance service members' health care. DVBIC honors 25 years of military health care by continued dedication to research and treatment of traumatic brain injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Art of Paddling

Collins enjoys stand-up paddle boarding for how it helps him with TBI. His service dog, Charlie, likes it too. (Courtesy Photo by U.S. Army Special Operations veteran Josh Collins)

A U.S. Army veteran’s recipe for embracing life after several TBIs

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Hearing Loss | Men's Health | Physical Activity | Physical Disability | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Traumatic Brain Injury | Vision Loss

Brain Injury Awareness Month - Videos spotlight military TBI champions

Former Army Sgt. Wendell Guillermo sustained a traumatic brain injury in Iraq when his unit was hit by a grenade. Despite experiencing some of the common symptoms of TBI including headaches, irritability, memory loss and sensitivity to light and sound following an incident in combat, Guillermo soldiered on. Years later, he was diagnosed with a mild to moderate TBI.

During Brain Injury Awareness Month and beyond, we want our military community to know that recovery from a TBI is possible

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Invisible wound, visible effects: TBIs need medical help – and the sooner, the better

Traumatic brain injuries can happen anywhere. Regardless of how or when, all TBIs need medical attention, experts warn. (Photo courtesy of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center)

The road to recovery for a traumatic brain injury starts with an evaluation. Regardless of severity or cause, all TBIs require medical attention, experts warn.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Warrior Care

Doctors use cutting-edge research at Navy hospital

Chad Rodarmer, traumatic brain injury clinic program manager, demonstrates tracking a patient's eye movement at Naval Medical Center San Diego, California. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

The Navy is developing and using cutting-edge research to better help service members, their family members and retirees

Recommended Content:

Technology | Warrior Care | Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain injury sufferers find benefits in music therapy program

Army Staff Sgt. Sean Young, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment training room noncommissioned officer, strums the guitar during music therapy with Danielle Kalseth, 673rd Medical Operations Squadron creative arts and music therapist, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Music therapy sessions help rehabilitate patients with traumatic brain injury. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell)

For people with TBI, music therapy can be instrumental to rehabilitation

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Traumatic Brain Injury

Centers of Excellence align under Defense Health Agency

DCoE has provided the MHS with the latest psychological health and traumatic brain injury clinical and educational information since 2007.

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) began realignment under the Defense Health Agency Oct. 1 as part of the ongoing Military Health System transformation

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Traumatic Brain Injury
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 7

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.