By Mrs. Melissa Buckley (Leonard Wood)March 5, 2015
Leading Traumatic Brain Injury specialists are coming to Fort Leonard Wood for a TBI Symposium March 13 in Nutter Field House.
The symposium will include military and clinical professionals, researchers and educators. A Soldier who has sustained a concussion will also be speaking about his/her personal experience.
According Thomas Van Dillen, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital Clinical Neuropsychologist and TBI Program chief, the expectation is that 9 to 10 percent of the post population will sustain a mild TBI.
He noted that 82 percent of concussions occur during training in a garrison environment, which is the highest rate.
Another reason concussion management is important on post is the presence of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Solders.
"This is a high interest group for concussion or mild TBI management," Van Dillen said. "Fort Leonard Wood also has a high degree of prior deployed who were exposed to concussive experience or had prior concussions."
But not all TBIs are due to combat or military training.
Van Dillen said people in the 15 to 24-age range are most likely to incur a concussion or mild TBI, also known as mTBI, because of a sporting injury or personal vehicle accident.
Two different panels are being planned for the event.
The target audience is service members, leaders, medical professionals, para-professionals, athletic directors, coaching staff, Family members and retirees.
The morning will be focused on military needs, and the afternoon will focus on clinical and scientific information.
"Content will be split up with a morning focus for commanders and the afternoon session focus for professionals," Van Dillen said.
The TBI Symposium will start at 8 a.m., followed by a Soldier speaking about his/her TBI. At 9 a.m. a presentation on mTBIs on Fort Leonard Wood is scheduled, followed by a session on the assessment and management of concussions.
The first panel discussion will be from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m.
The symposium will break for lunch and continue at 12:30 p.m. with information from the Department of Defense on TBI research.
Saint Louis University Advanced Neurosurgical Innovation Center representatives will speak at 1:15 p.m.
At 2:15 p.m., the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress School of Medicine Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences will have a presentation on self-reporting of post-concussive symptoms.
A doctor from Georgetown University will take the podium at 3 p.m., followed by the second panel discussion from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m.
Kenneth Reinhard, GLWACH TBI Program liaison, said attending the TBI Symposium is important for several reasons.
"It addresses the stigma of TBI by bringing understanding to what they are and its effects. The command team only wants what is best for their Soldiers, so it is important to address those leader concerns, as well," Reinhard said.
He said the event also helps to inform Family members, so they can take better care of each other during this time. And it is important for medical providers and other professionals, because they will get a better understanding of the current research and how it affects each of them in regard to their students, patients or athletes.
"This is a fairly new arena of medicine for people to grasp. There are always more questions than answers. I believe these symposiums help to bring multi-faceted understanding, so as a community, we can be confident as we move forward with 21st century injuries and illnesses," Reinhard said.
A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.
The severity of a TBI may range from mild -- a brief change in mental status or consciousness, to severe -- an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.
Symptoms of TBI can include reduced attention and concentration, and difficulty with memory and problem solving, which can exacerbate issues affecting mood and relationships, and impact job performance. "Awareness and education is key to prevention," Van Dillen said.
"Concussion or mTBI is manageable, in most cases. For the best outcomes, it is vital to promptly identifying them. By early identification and subsequent treatment, the brain can draw upon its natural ability to recover and remain resilient," he added.