New policies protect troops from mild traumatic brain injuries
Soldiers with 782nd Alpha Company make their way around gigantic improvised explosive device blast holes that were created just a few hours prior to their convoy passing through in Southern Afghanistan. New policies now require any Soldier who sustains a direct blow to the head or loss of consciousness, or is in the immediate vicinity of a blast, to undergo a medical evaluation, followed by 24 hours of downtime and medical clearance before returning to duty.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (July 22, 2010) -- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has sent a message to commanders throughout the force to reinforce new policies designed to minimize the effects of mild traumatic brain injuries, or mTBI.

Mild traumatic brain injuries are more commonly known as concussions. Explosions on the battlefield often cause these injuries, but they also can occur through falls, sports injuries, auto accidents or any other event resulting in a blow to the head.

The policies require any Soldier who sustains a direct blow to the head or loss of consciousness, or is within 50 meters of a blast (inside or outside), or is in a vehicle associated with a blast event, collision, or rollover, or is dismounted within 50 meters of a blast, or is in a building or vehicle damaged by a blast/accident to undergo a medical evaluation, followed by 24 hours of downtime and medical clearance before returning to duty.

Comprehensive medical evaluations are mandatory for anyone sustaining three concussions within 12 months.

Research shows that concussions are overwhelmingly treatable. Receiving prompt care, regardless of the severity of injury, is the key to regaining the highest functional level possible.

"I want to reinforce the need to fully implement and adhere to this mTBI management program," Casey said in the message. "We are completing our ninth year at war, and our force is stretched by the cumulative effects of the last nine years. Effectively managing our fighters is essential to our long-term success in this war. That is what this program is about."

Casey urged Army leaders "at all levels" to understand and enforce the mTBI policies.

The Army's mTBI management program is explained in ALARACT 193/2010-HQDA EXORD 253-10, Management of Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) in the Deployed Setting, DTG 260416Z Jun 10.

Page last updated Thu July 22nd, 2010 at 11:42