National Brain Injury Awareness Month
March 7, 2011
<b>National Brain Injury Awareness Month</b>
<b>What it is' </b>
March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are disruptions of the brain that occur due to a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injuries. The severity of TBIs can range from mild to severe. The Army wants leaders, Soldiers and family members to understand the signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), also called concussions, and the importance of seeking prompt medical care-which is an act of strength and courage.
Most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness and are treatable. The majority of people who experience a concussion recover completely with no lasting effects. Some common signs and symptoms of a concussion may include amnesia, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headache, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting or ringing in the ears. Some people have memory or concentration problems, sensitivity to light and noise, sleep disturbances, irritability and depression.
<b>What has the the Army done' </b>
The Army adopted an <i>"Educate, Train, Treat and Track" </i> strategy in late 2009 and implemented a theater mild TBI/concussion protocol in June 2010. Any deployed Soldier who sustains a direct blow to the head, experiences a loss of consciousness, is within 50 meters of a blast (inside or outside), is in a vehicle associated with a blast event, collision or rollover, or is command-directed (especially in cases involving exposure to multiple blasts events) must undergo a medical evaluation. The protocol also requires a minimum 24-hour downtime period, followed by medical clearance before a Soldier may return to duty. A comprehensive medical evaluation is also mandatory for any Soldier who sustains three concussions within 12 months.
<b>What does the Army have planned for the future' </b>
The Army is aggressively researching the latest methods to protect Soldiers from injuries using improved equipment to detect brain injuries, and neuroimaging techniques and assessments to treat concussions/mild TBI.
<b>Why is this important for the Army' </b>
Soldiers are the Army's most important resource. Explosions and blows to the head can disrupt brain function and cause Soldiers to experience the effects of concussion. Whether on the battlefield or at home (vehicle accident, sporting event, a fall, etc.), the keys to successful recovery after a concussion are early detection, intervention to include education and treatment to include rest. Rest is very important because it helps the brain to heal. Ignoring signs and symptoms after a concussion and trying to "tough it out" can make symptoms worse. The guidance for Soldiers and leaders is to be patient because it takes time for the brain to heal.
<a href="http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/" target="_blank">U.S. Army Medical Department website</a>
<a href="http://www.dvbic.org/" target="_blank"> Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center</a>
<a href="http://www.dcoe.health.mil/" target="_blank">Defense Centers of Excellence website</a>
<a href="http://www.biausa.org/" target="_blank">Brain Injury Association of America</a>
<a href="http://www.brainline.org/" target="_blank"> Brainline.org</a>
<a href="http://www.behavioralhealth.army.mil/" target="_blank"> Army Behavioral Health website</a>
<a href="http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/prr/mtbi_101.html" target="_blank"> MTBI 101 PSA (video)</a>
<a href="http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/prr/post_combat.html" target="_blank"> Post combat driving for Soldiers and Family Members (Brochures)</a>