Support groups help Soldiers, families deal with traumatic brain injuries
August 25, 2009
BAUMHOLDER, Germany - Why am I like this' Am I the only one feeling this way' These are just a couple of questions Soldiers ponder when returning from a 14-month deployment with a mild traumatic brain injury.
Landstuhl social worker for the Department of Neurology Jeanne Jahosky is currently holding two support groups for Soldiers and spouses every Monday at the Baumholder Health Clinic to help those in need and to let them know they are not alone.
According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, a traumatic brain injury is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from mild - a brief change in mental status or consciousness - to severe - an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short- or long-term problems with independent function.
Since there is a small TBI team at the Baumholder Health Clinic, Jahosky comes to Baumholder once a week to save Soldiers and family members from having to travel to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to get this kind of support. In addition Jannan Polk, nurse with the TBI program at the Baumholder Health Clinic, sits in on the support groups for additional questions and support.
All service members are now screened for post-concussions when they return from a deployment. They are asked if they were in a blast along with other questions of symptoms they may have from the blast.
The support groups offered in Baumholder are structured but act as just one way to receive therapy. Jahosky wants Soldiers and family members to get the information they need about MTBI.
"Each case is different but there are groups of similar characteristics among the symptoms of MTBI, which is a post-concussion," said Jahosky.
She wants Soldiers and spouses to know it is a struggle but they can work through it. Jahosky offers ways to cope with memory loss such as leaving a basket by the front door near a charger so Soldiers do not forget where their important items are.
She also suggests Soldiers use a PDA to help with remembering important information such as appointments or errands.
Post-concussions and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder go hand in hand most of the time. They are both treatable and manageable if one is willing to go through the process of getting better.
The first support group was held July 27 at 10 a.m. for spouses and 2 p.m. for Soldiers. It acted as a way to find out what the community would like to know and how Jahosky can help.
Jahosky can answer questions and hand out useful sources of information. At the first meeting she explained what a post-concussion is, what causes it, symptoms of MTBI and concussions, how to prevent another blast to your head, where to get information, who is at the highest risk for it, the long-term consequences and ways to recover from a post-concussion.
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center states symptoms of MTBI or concussion often resolve within hours to days and almost always improves over one to three months.
However, if symptoms persist without improvement, medical treatment should be sought.
"There are other service members that feel the same way and you are not alone in feeling the way you do. We are here to support you and will be talking about educational topics and different experiences Soldiers may be having," said Jahosky.
It is not necessary to sign up for the support group. You can just show up.
For more information contact Jahosky at mil 486-5734.