Back to Top Skip to main content

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) 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)

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Warrior Care

From falling on a slippery sidewalk to being exposed to an explosive blast, traumatic brain injuries can happen to anyone, anywhere. While these injuries may be invisible to the eye, they require the time and attention of a visible injury. Regardless of where, when, or how these injuries happen, one thing is for sure: All TBIs need medical attention.

Dr. Katharine Stout, clinical affairs director and a physical therapist at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, said resting and waiting to see if symptoms go away on their own can have a negative impact on neurological recovery – even for mild brain injuries.

“The one thing we absolutely know about recovery is the earlier you’re seen and get into treatment, the better your long term recovery is,” said Stout. “It’s also important to remember that no traumatic brain injury is the same, so the recovery process for one person could be completely different from another.” Comparing recovery processes can be detrimental to the patient because it can foster unrealistic expectations.

A mild TBI, sometimes referred to as a concussion, can be caused by a blow or jolt to the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms may include headache, dizziness, memory problems, irritability, trouble sleeping or concentrating, or sensitivity to light or noise. Treatment for a mild TBI may require only a few weeks of symptom management. Individuals with a severe or penetrating TBI, which can cause behavioral, functional, or psychological changes, most likely face a longer recovery.

At the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, or NICoE, the interdisciplinary approach to treatment involves a team of specialists. Patients may meet with a psychiatrist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, neuropsychologist, or speech and language pathologist, depending on the severity of the TBI. Patients work with their providers to come up with a plan that fits their needs.

Treven Pickett, department chief of research at the NICoE, said that while the rehabilitation and recovery process can be challenging for both patient and family members, the process also provides an opportunity to grow.

“After a TBI, lives can change,” said Pickett. Minor changes and lifestyle adjustments may occur following milder injuries, while family members can become full-time caregivers in more severe cases.

Because of this crucial role in supporting the rehabilitation and recovery process for a TBI patient, Pickett said family members need to take care of themselves as well during that time. In addition to various outpatient services and patient-focused assessments, the NICoE offers family-centered services, such as psychotherapy and family counseling, to help family members improve coping skills and communication. The NICoE, a directorate of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, also supports and coordinates with Intrepid Spirit Centers located across the country.

Dr. Scott Livingston, education director at DVBIC, said traumatic brain injuries do not have the same stigma as other mental health conditions like depression, but he still sees some patients hesitant to report symptoms and seek treatment. However, many advancements have been made in the way these injuries are discussed, researched, and treated, he stressed.

Getting assessed and seeking treatment are the first steps to recovery for a TBI, but sticking with rehabilitation is critical to achieve the best outcomes and quality of life. Patients may reach plateaus in their recovery, but they’re encouraged to keep going, said Livingston. Whether they stall in progress when it comes to their mobile, cognitive, or communication abilities, improvements are always possible, he added.

“We try to encourage all service members, veterans, family members, and caregivers that seeking help is not a sign of weakness,” said Livingston. “It’s actually a good show of strength that you have the courage to report your symptoms and get evaluated and treated.”

You also may be interested in...

Service members share ‘art’ of healing

Article
11/28/2017
Air Force veteran Adrianna Ruark works on a drawing. (DoD photo by Roger L. Wollenberg)

Service members, veterans and caregivers shared how using art helps their recovery

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Let's talk about sex, occupational therapist says

Article
11/22/2017
Occupational therapist Kathryn Ellis meets with a patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Silence on topic no help to wounded warriors

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Brain injury sufferers find benefits in music therapy program

Article
11/17/2017
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

Things that make you go ‘om’: Meditation for healthy living

Article
11/15/2017
A soldier with the 160th Signal Brigade meditates before duty at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Margaret Taylor)

Researchers say brain changes may lead to long-term benefits

Recommended Content:

Integrative Wellness | Consortium for Health and Military Performance | Warrior Care

Injured Marine fulfills dream of learning to surf

Article
11/7/2017
Marine Corps Cpl. Leighton Anderson surfs a closed out wave during the Naval Medical Center San Diego surf therapy clinic in Del Mar, California. Participation in the therapy clinic for patients like Leighton is medically appointed, and its many benefits include pain management and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

Naval Medical Center San Diego's Wounded, Ill and Injured Wellness division offers a surfing clinic

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

The gift of a kidney bolsters bond between classmates

Article
11/6/2017
West Point classmates Chris Connelly (left) and Air Force Col. Dave Ashley feel well enough to pose for a photo the day after Ashley donated a kidney to Connelly. (Courtesy photo)

MHS supports officer in living organ donation

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

We have the technology: 3-D printing takes wounded warriors to a new dimension

Article
11/2/2017
Peter Liacouras is director of the 3-D Medical Applications Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Center at Walter Reed designs, produces custom-made items

Recommended Content:

Technology | Warrior Care

Life with Lizzy

Article
11/1/2017
Army Master Sgt. Leigh Michel gets a kiss from her service dog Lizzy. (U.S. Army photo by Whitney Delbridge Nichels)

How a service dog is helping one combat veteran reconnect

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Centers of Excellence align under Defense Health Agency

Article
11/1/2017
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

Warrior Care Month: Honoring our Nation's Heroes

Article
10/31/2017
Command Sergeant Major Robert Luciano, Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Defense Health Agency

The Military Health System celebrates the resiliency, achievements, and commitment of our warfighters, as well as their families and caregivers, throughout the Warrior Care Month

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

3-D Printing for Wounded Warriors

Video
9/21/2017
3-D Printing for Wounded Warriors

Scientists at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are making unique 3-D printed devices to get wounded warriors back to their daily routines.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

International service members, veterans join for 2017 Invictus Games

Article
9/21/2017
The U.S. Swimming team trains for the Invictus Games at Hofstra University in New York, September 19, 2017. The Invictus Games, established by Britain’s Prince Harry in 2014, brings together wounded and injured veterans from 17 nations for 12 adaptive sporting events, including track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, swimming, sitting volleyball, and new to the 2017 games, golf. (DoD photo by Roger L. Wollenberg)

The Invictus Games is an international Paralympic-style competition which draws together athletes from 17 allied nations to participate in nearly a dozen adaptive sports

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Multiple choices, multiple answers as brain injury research evolves for future battlefield

Article
9/1/2017
Dr. Marcello Pilia of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Combat Casualty Care Research Program tests the I-Portal PAS tool - one of several emerging TBI detection devices - during a presentation at the Pentagon in May 2017. (Photo Credit: Adam Wyatt, TATRC)

Cutting-edge traumatic brain injury detection technologies discussed at the 2017 Military Health System Research Symposium in Kissimmee, Florida.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

NMRC presents research on recovery from mild TBI following uncomplicated mounted and dismounted IED blast at MHSRS

Article
8/29/2017
Photo By Katherine Berland | Dr. Anna Tschiffely shared findings on the effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) on service members during the first 30 days following an improvised explosive device (IED) blast during the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS) August 28 (U.S. Navy Photo/Katie Berland/Released)

A researcher from the Naval Medical Research Center shared findings on the effects of mild traumatic brain injury on service members during the first 30 days following an improvised explosive device blast

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Research and Innovation

Possible cause for severe eczema has been found

Article
8/21/2017
Some patients living with severe eczema – a possible disqualifying factor for military service – have been found to have mutations on a gene called CARD11. Identified as a possible cause for the condition, the discovery can lead to exciting possibilities for advancements, according to the researchers.

Some patients living with severe eczema have been found to have mutations on a gene called CARD11 – Identified as a possible cause for the condition, the discovery can lead to exciting possibilities for advancements, according to the researchers

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Innovation | Warrior Care
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 10

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.