According to the RAND Study (2008), there were more than 22,000 Veterans being compensated for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), of whom more than 5,800 were Veterans of the current wars, and TBI is estimated to affect some 20 percent of U.S. service members injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Most of the injuries normally occur as a result of being in proximity to an explosion, with most injuries considered mild. However, whether the injury is mild or not, the long-term possibility of a service member having personality changes, memory, judgment, or mood impairments is significant. Chronic pain, anxiety and headaches, are common symptoms of TBI. Researchers are currently exploring new brain-scanning technology in order to detect TBI injuries often missed in ordinary Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. Combining MRI and CT methods together, Magnetoencephalography (MEG), which captures electromagnetic brain cell activity, as they give of neurological signals, and diffusion tensor imaging to track water molecules as they travel through the brain, holds promise in determining TBI. Upon a diagnosis of TBI, under the supervision of health care professionals, a treatment plan can be formulated to assist the service member. A service member experiencing these symptoms should contact health care officials promptly. Treating TBI presently includes a combination of occupational therapy, and medication.
According to the RAND study (2008), approximately 57 percent of those service members reporting a probable TBI had not been evaluated for a brain injury. Putting this statistic in context, the potential for service members in need of help is high, and the effects of not treating these service members affected by TBI will only magnify the long-term costs of treating service members. The longer we wait to educate, identify, and treat injured service members the greater the cost will be. Given the sacrifice service members have already made in serving their country in combat, withholding health care evaluations is a national calamity.
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Amanda Gardner, “Traumatic Brain Injuries Linked to Long-Term Health
Issues for Vets,” The Washington Post, December 4, 2008: http://www.washingtonpost.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. (2010). Psychological and Neurological Injuries
Confront a New Generation of Veterans. Retrieved from http://iava.org/files/IAVA_invisible_wounds_0.pdf