Ed. Note: To coincide with Independence Day celebrations, we’re offering an educational 4-part series “Saluting our Soldiers.” We’re taking a closer look at the mental health issues facing today’s soldiers and veterans—and sharing the latest research news affecting military personnel.
Overview: Official military figures report that about 115,000 troops have experienced a traumatic brain injury since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began, but most experts agree that number is underreported. In about 15-20% of those brain injuries, symptoms persist for 6 months or longer. Each injury affects the brain differently, but common symptoms of TBI include headaches, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, dizziness, trouble with memory or concentration, a short temper, and problems sleeping. In severe cases, symptoms can include memory loss, loss of motor function, loss of hearing or vision, and loss of cognitive functions.
Is there a cure? No drugs have been approved to treat TBI, but some people have found success using some combination of physical therapy, neurofeedback, psychotherapy, and brain training to improve outcomes and recover function. Many people who suffer even severe TBIs can recover most of their pre-injury functionality over time, but it can take months or years of dedicated work and therapy. One of the most confounding elements of TBI treatment among veterans is that the types of TBIs incurred by soldiers— like those caused by explosions from IEDs or bombs — are very different from the types of TBIs which have long been studied, like those caused by sports injuries or car accidents.
Research Studies: Learn about the latest research on treating TBI in wounded warriors.