HONOLULU -- In an effort to help educate beneficiaries on what brain injury services and support are available, a Brain Injury Awareness Open House will be held March 14, 1-3 p.m., in Room 9B114 at Tripler Army Medical Center, here.

The Pacific Regional Medical Command's Traumatic Brain Injury Program, a comprehensive program which provides a continuum of integrated care and services for active duty service members and other beneficiaries with traumatic brain injuries, or TBI, will sponsor the open house.

Traumatic brain injuries are a disruption of function in the brain resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in TBI. The severity of TBI can range from mild, more commonly known as a concussion, to severe involving an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia. TBIs are a major health issue for the military. Unlike other injuries that change appearance, you cannot see a brain injury.

According to the U.S. Army's TBI Program, the majority of people with TBI recover with little or no specific medical intervention because most TBIs are mild, which are also known as mTBIs.

"The Defense Department maintains a traumatic brain injury database, which shows that 202,281 service members sustained a TBI between 2000-2010," explained Dr. Sarah Miyahira, director, Traumatic Injury Program, Pacific Regional Medical Command. "Approximately 85 to 90 percent of combat exposed troops who sustain a mild TBI experience a complete resolution of symptoms within the first several days to weeks after the incident."

However, some people with TBI require specialty evaluation and intervention if they had a more severe injury or are not recovering quickly from a mild injury. Beneficiaries requiring extra care will work with a diverse team of healthcare professionals.

The medical team may vary depending on the type and severity of injury and the needs of the patient. The team may include a wide range of physicians, nurses, behavioral health specialists and rehabilitations specialists.

"We utilize a family-centered approach, to include educational and group treatment programs for both Wounded Warriors and their spouses," explained George Husky, liaison officer, Traumatic Injury Program, PRMC. "Our program provides state-of-the-art continuously improving care for Wounded Warriors with TBI and mTBI in order to optimize functional outcomes and facilitate a return to duty."

The Department of Defense's TBI research portfolio has grown, reflecting the department's understanding of these injuries, which will translate into improved clinical care and outcomes. TBI research continues to be fast tracked to assist our service members in improved care in collaboration with the line, medical and research communities. DOD will continue to provide a continuum of TBI screening and care from in-theater to post-deployment, including transitions to Veterans Affairs, ensuring the military health system properly screens and cares for service members with TBI.

Prevention of TBI is the safest and most cost-efficient course of action. DOD and each of the branches of service are working diligently to improve today's helmet designs, reduce the risks of blunt impact, provide greater ballistic protection and guard against blast injury.

"Most TBIs occur in non-deployed settings," Husky said. "So the Defense Department has launched an aggressive TBI prevention campaign emphasizing the use of seatbelts and protective eyewear and gear when service members are engaged in daily and recreational activities."

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For information about signing up for either a support group and/or an educational group call Ms. Galsomenia (Gale) Nathan at 808-433-6405.

Page last updated Fri February 24th, 2012 at 14:19