Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Traumatic Brain Injuries: Invisible Wounds of War

12:25 PM

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America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated just how terrible improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are. Although these weapons were capable of physical injury, they also caused a lot of "invisible wounds" among veterans.

These are known as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), one of the most common injuries reported by enlisted personnel who participated in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Most of the reported cases of TBI, classified as either mild or severe, were caused by IEDs, sudden slips and falls, and vehicular accidents.

Mild TBIs manifest themselves as headaches, lightheadedness, fatigue, lethargy, change in sleeping patterns, and disorientation. Severe TBIs, on the other hand, can result in loss of consciousness, amnesia, extreme pupil dilation (anisocoria), and confusion even after a great deal of time has passed since the incident. Depending on the severity of the wound, symptoms of TBI can either appear immediately, or weeks or months after the event.

Since 2008, the number of TBI cases among enlisted personnel has increased significantly to the point that veterans diagnosed with TBI can earn a 100 percent disability rating when applying for VA benefits. Close to 20,000 members of the Army were diagnosed with TBI in 2011, while other branches had less than 5,000 cases reported.


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