Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a signature wound of the current conflicts, yet it is often difficult to diagnosis and understand in many cases. To learn more, visit the sites provided and read the summary of TBI below.
- Brain Line – http://www.brainline.org is a national multimedia project offering information about preventing, treating and living with TBI. www.brainlinemilitary.org is specific for military.
- Brain Injury Association of America – http://www.biausa.org/. Information about brain injuries and living with them for the injured, families and caregivers.
- Center for Deployment Psychology – http://deploymentpsych.org/training/training-catalog/course-119-online-the-fundamentals-of-traumatic-brain-injury-tbi Free training about TBI. Click on “Take for Free” and receive a very up-to-date review of TBI and how it may be diagnosed and/or treated. (NOTE: if the link does not connect immediately, follow prompts and it should connect).
- Resurrecting Lives – TBI – www.ResurrectingLives.org This organization is dedicated to systematically, efficiently and successfully diagnosing and treating veterans who are returning from war primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while also contributing to the prevention of TBI in the future. Helpful information is available on this site.
- Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence – https://health.mil/About-MHS/OASDHA/Defense-Health-Agency/Research-and-Development/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Center-of-Excellence As the TBI Pathway of Care manager within the MHS, the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence promotes state-of-the-science care from point-of-injury to reintegration for service members, veterans, and their families to prevent and mitigate consequences of mild to severe TBI.
Bottom Line, Up-Front
Currently, there are three main classifications of Traumatic Brain Injury. They are mild, moderate and severe. There are few resources for accurately diagnosing TBI. The most clear diagnosis is for severe TBI. Often, with severe TBI, there are tests like MRI’s and fMRI’s that can obtain a picture of the brain. In severe TBI, it is most often possible to see from those pictures where specific damage has been done. Sometimes this is possible for moderate TBI and sometimes it is not. Very often, it is not possible to get a picture with mild TBI. In those cases, some of the following assessments can help determine if there is a brain injury:
1) A Neurological-Psychological Evaluation (sometimes called a Neuro-Psych eval). This requires a qualified Neuro Psychologist to perform a series of tests on the patient that help to determine if there has been injury to specific parts of the brain and to determine the severity. These tests are NOT medical tests, but a series of memory, motor, and other tests that can take at least a full day (and often more) to perform. Then, it may take up to a month or more for the psychologist to prepare a report that offers a diagnosis.
2) A self-evaluation. This could be an on-line test or even a test given in the post-deployment phase in which the veteran is asked questions like, “did you loose consciousness due to a blast” or “do you have severe and debilitating headaches that began after being around a blast”. The results of those evaluations are only as good as the veterans’ memory or willingness to answer honestly.
3) Observation by others. Sometimes other people notice things that a veteran may not. They may recognize that the veteran acts differently and/or processes information differently than before deployment. Often times, veterans do not remember or are unaware or unwilling for a variety of reasons, to admit that their thinking, seeing, judgment, and behavior have changed, but many times the people like family and friends may notice a change.
At one time, there was a belief that brain injuries sustained more permanent challenges. Now, there is a belief that with correct diagnosis and good treatment (PROPER medication if prescribed and monitored carefully AND brain exercises and other methods) can create wonderful options for healing. As with any injury, the sooner it is discovered, it creates the best opportunity for optimal recovery. And, as with anything, the honesty of the veteran and family member and the pro-active and compassionate efforts of the care team create the most POSITIVE atmosphere for healing.