Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms May Last for Years

A report by the Department of Defense indicates that many veterans with traumatic brain injury continue to experience significant symptoms five years after the injury occurred. TBI is associated with serious physical, cognitive and psychological problems.

The Resurrecting Lives Foundation, a nonprofit organization that conducts research and offers support to wounded soldiers, estimates that nearly 400,000 veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from the effects of TBI.

However, fewer than half of veterans with traumatic brain injury are receiving services from the Veterans Administration. That means that many veterans are trying to cope with the effects of TBI without assistance.

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center keeps track of veterans receiving screening and treatment for TBI. Since 2000, 273,859 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with TBI, steadily increasing each year with a peak of 32,625 diagnoses in 2011.

Army veterans had more cases of TBI than veterans of other military branches. However, the recent study and other sources suggest that TBI among veterans is an even larger problem than the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center acknowledges.

The report points out that mild TBI might be more damaging and longer lasting than medical science once thought. The fact is that even five years after an injury, a clinically significant number of veterans with TBI are still experiencing problems, affecting their mental and physical health, quality of life and cognitive functioning.

According to Veterans Affairs and the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, common long-term symptoms of TBI include pain, fatigue, hydrocephalus, physical aggression, substance abuse, impaired judgment, slow thinking, impulse control problems, seizures, spasticity, sleep disturbances, dizziness, sensory impairments, depression, irritability, decreased focus and personality change.

Patients with TBI also are more likely to experience side effects from medication, making it difficult to treat mental health issues that typically respond well to pharmaceutical intervention.

It is clear that more research about TBI treatment is needed to help veterans and others who suffer from this serious and long-lasting condition.

Have you suffered TBI, a blunt force head injury, or puncture wound? Geoff McDonald and Associates is a law firm in Richmond that helps Virginia residents with TBI and other head injuries get the financial support and medical treatment they need to get well.