Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Caregiver Guide supports service members and veterans with TBI

Image of Military family posing for a picture. Caregivers play a vital role for TBI patient recovery (Photo by: Army Lt. Col. John Hall, 173rd Airborne Brigade)

Recommended Content:

Centers of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Education and Training Events

After her husband sustained a traumatic brain injury from a rocket attack in Iraq in 2006, Tiffany Bodge searched for information to help cope with her new role as a caregiver.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Bodge struggled with short-term memory loss, sometimes taking his evening medication in the morning. The pain from his TBI-induced chronic migraines made it hard to concentrate.

However, when Tiffany Bodge discovered the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence's Caregiver Guide in 2021, she found tools to help the couple manage his recovery. Now, when he goes for treatment, they work on lists of questions to ask the doctor. If he forgets a conversation, he asks for the details to be repeated.

"I look at caregiving as collaborative, we have to do it together," Tiffany Bodge said. "I'm here to make his life easier, to help him in a way that gives him the freedom to continue to live his life that isn't really defined by parameters. The TBI is going to limit him in the things that he's capable of doing, but you know, we can figure out a way that he can still enjoy life and do the things that he wants to do. He just has to do them in a different way."

Research shows family support leads to better recovery, and addressing caregiver needs has long been a focus of TBICoE. In a recent report to Congress, TBICoE states, "Family education and support are critical components of acute inpatient rehabilitation; however, needs are common in chronic stages of TBI, highlighting the importance of ongoing services through chronic stages of TBI."

To provide those services to family and friends like the Bodges, TBICoE released an updated Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans earlier this month.

"[The guide] gives you a really good understanding of the different types of TBI and the severity, what you're going to be dealing with in the short term, [and] what may possibly be in the long term," explained Tiffany Bodge, who was asked to review and provide feedback on the new guide. "But I also like the fact that it talks about the recovery process, and that the caregiver is an integral part of recovery."

The guide includes the following:

  • Resources to address mild TBI, also known as a concussion, which accounts for over 80% of TBIs in the military reported by TBICoE. The earlier version addressed only moderate, severe, and penetrating TBI.
  • New content on post-traumatic stress disorder, substance misuse, and intimacy (from both the patient and caregiver perspective), and information on suicide and caregiver burnout.
  • Interactive features allowing users to easily navigate the guide and find relevant information that meets their needs.

Military personnel participating in a training exercise
Some service members with TBI can experience vision problems. Navy Cmdr. Matthew Lawrence, a physician deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, checks Army Sgt. Jeremy Woodrow’s responsiveness during a mass casualty training exercise at Erbil Air Base in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Jan. 16, 2020. (Photo by: Army Spc. Angel Ruszkiewicz)

"The best thing about the caregiver guide is that it is written for caregivers. It has practical tips. You might be experiencing this, [so] try this. These practical tips from people that you know have already gone through it really, really helps," said Melissa Comeau, whose husband Stephen, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, sustained the first of his multiple TBIs around 2004, and who has PTSD, as well.

Comeau also reviewed the guide and liked the content provided on the relationship between TBI and PTSD. "It helped me reach out to the correct type of providers and ask for the correct type of treatment and also ask the right kind of questions to get my husband on a path to the best recovery he could have," she said.

In addition to being interactive and available on desktop and mobile devices, the guide is shorter - only 154 pages.

Both the original and current guides relied on expertise from across the Department of Defense. Congressionally mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007, the first guide involved collaboration among TBI experts, survivors, and experienced caregivers of service members and veterans with TBIs. Similarly, the new version drew on input from TBICoE, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Comeau remains hopeful about how she and her husband will continue to manage his TBI.

"Resources like the Caregiver Guide are an important tool for providers to offer to the caregivers of their patients who are recovering from a TBI," said Navy Capt. Scott Pyne, a physician and the TBICoE division chief. "Each caregiver can use the guide to meet their own unique needs, which can be wide ranging. This is the beauty of the guide. Whether it's using the resource section to lookup local caregiver groups or someone that they can physically connect with, or using the glossary to remind them of the jargon that was used during a medical appointment. The guide can empower the caregiver in their role supporting someone close to them who has been diagnosed with a TBI. It also can help improve the providers' relationship with their patients by arming them and their caregivers with the information needed to support their recovery."

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence is a congressionally mandated collaboration of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to promote state-of-the-science care from point-of-injury to reintegration for service members, veterans, and their families to prevent and mitigate the consequences of mild to severe traumatic brain injury. The center is a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate.

For more information on the Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans and other TBICoE programs, visit: health.mil/TBICoE.

You also may be interested in...

Five Clinical Tools To Help Assess and Treat TBI

Article
3/17/2022
An Army 'gun team' brace for the concussion of a 105mm howitzer during operations in Iraq in 2008. (Photo: Master Sgt. Kevin Doheny)

Here are five new ways that doctors can diagnose and treat mild concussions.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Ask the Doc: Can a Concussion Affect Hearing and Vision?

Article
3/16/2022
Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, a physical therapist for the Fort Drum Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Clinic, New York, uses a model of the inner ear on Feb. 27, 2019, to demonstrate how a concussion can cause inner ear, or vestibular, damage which may result in dizziness, anxiety, depression, moodiness, balance problems and irritability to name a few. (Photo: Warren W. Wright Jr., Fort Drum MEDDAC)

Even a mild concussion can lead to hearing and vision problems.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Hearing Center of Excellence | Vision Center of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Ask The Doc

TBICoE 2021 Publications

Publication
3/16/2022

Master list of 2021 TBICoE articles published in research journals

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | TBICoE Research | Traumatic Brain Injury

Data Registry Helps Improve Research and Treatment for Eye Injuries

Article
3/14/2022
Pvt. Second Class Jagger Dixon, treats an eye injury during Expert Infantryman Badge testing, June 15, 2021, at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Dixon is a soldier with B Company; 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Soldiers must successfully execute a variety of warrior tasks to earn their EIB. (Photo: Army Spc. Kay Edwards, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)

Eye injury registry (DVEIVR) transforms data into usable information to help improve initial warfighter care and rehabilitation.

Recommended Content:

Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision Center of Excellence

A Retired Navy SEAL Discusses his TBI

Video
3/9/2022
A Retired Navy SEAL Discusses his TBI

Retired Navy SEAL Edward Rasmussen discusses his TBI, and urges others to seek treatment if they have symptoms. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TBI, visit health.mil/TBI to learn about the resources available to you.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury

One Airman's Recovery from TBI

Video
3/9/2022
One Airman's Recovery from TBI

After a motorcycle accident, Master Sergeant Stalnaker started having symptoms of traumatic brain injury, or TBI. He tells his story about his symptoms and his road to recovery from physical and emotional wounds as a result. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TBI, visit health.mil/TBI to learn about the resources available to you.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury

It’s True – Carrots (and Other Vegetables) Can Help You See in the Dark

Article
3/4/2022
Each color in fruits and vegetables indicates an abundance of specific nutrients.

Have you ever heard that carrots are good for your eyes, or that they can help you see in the dark? It’s true – carrots are rich in the compound beta carotene, which your body uses to make a form of vitamin A that helps your eyes adjust in the dark. A shortage of vitamin A can cause a host of health problems, including blindness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision Center of Excellence

BIAM Vision and Hearing

Infographic
2/17/2022
BIAM Vision and Hearing

Vision and hearing are vital senses for effective communication and situational awareness. To defend yourself against injury and maintain mission readiness, wear the proper vision and hearing protection while on and off duty. Find the latest vision and hearing protection recommendations here: • Vision: https://vce.health.mil/Eye-Injury-Prevention-and-Response/Eye-Protection • Hearing: https://hearing.health.mil/Prevention/Evaluated-Hearing-Protection-Devices #BIAMonth #BeTBIReady

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Brain Injury Awareness Month Banner

Infographic
2/17/2022
Brain Injury Awareness Month Banner

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Traumatic brain injuries are a key health concern for the military community. Thanks to innovations across the Military Health System, we are improving quality of life for TBI patients & their families. This month, we will share stories, tips, and resources for TBI prevention and recovery. www.health.mil/BIAMonth #BeTBIReady #BIAMonth

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

BIAM Heads Up

Infographic
2/17/2022
BIAM Heads Up

Head injuries, especially from a blast, have become one of the most common combat-related injuries among deployed service members. Typical head injury symptoms are: trouble hearing speech in noisy settings, ringing or other sounds in your ears or head, or dizziness when you move your head while walking or bending down. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. For more about TBI and hearing loss, visit: https://hearing.health.mil/Resources/Education/Conditions-and-Concerns/TBI-and-Hearing-Loss #BIAMonth #BeTBIReady

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

BIAM TBI 2

Infographic
2/17/2022
BIAM TBI 2

#DYK Most TBIs experienced by service members are mild concussions? But, remember, even a mild TBI can impact your overall health and ability to deploy. Learn more: https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Centers-of-Excellence/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Center-of-Excellence/Patient-and-Family-Resources #BeTBIReady

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

BIAM TBI 3

Infographic
2/17/2022
BIAM TBI 3

#DYK Symptoms of TBI aren’t just physical? Severe TBIs can increase the risk for mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Learn more: https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Centers-of-Excellence/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Center-of-Excellence/Patient-and-Family-Resources #BeTBIReady

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Awareness Month 1

Infographic
2/17/2022
Brain Injury Awareness Month 1

Even a mild traumatic brain injury can impact mission readiness and the ability to deploy. #BeTBIReady by understanding the signs and symptoms of TBI, and knowing when to seek care. Thanks to innovations across the Military Health System, TBI is treatable & recovery is possible. www.Health.mil/BIAMonth #BIAMonth #BeTBIReady

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

BIAM Head Injury

Infographic
2/17/2022
BIAM Head Injury

DYK? If you sustain a head injury, you could also have vision, balance, and hearing damage problems. See your health care provider right away. https://vce.health.mil; https://hearing.health.mil #BIAMonth #BeTBIReady

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

BIAM Call to Action

Infographic
2/17/2022
BIAM Call to Action

#PSA! Don’t forget your protective gear! Most TBIs do not occur in combat. They are usually caused by everyday activities like sports, training, or a car accident. You can minimize the risk of TBI by wearing protective gear. www.health.mil/BIAMonth #BeTBIReady #BIAMonth

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 17
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 27, 2021

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.