FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – Many service members know the invisible wounds of battle far too well. Some of the worst that plague them years later stem from traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.
During Brain Injury Awareness Month, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital experts want everyone to know that both acute and chronic TBIs can impact on everyday life both physically and emotionally.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a TBI as "a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury."
According to the Department of Defense, between 2000 and 2020 more than 430,000 service members experienced a TBI as a result of combat injuries, training accidents and everyday activities such as sporting events. More than 350,000 were considered mild such as a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body.
Angela Husong, nurse practitioner, leads the effort to treat TBIs at GLWACH. She worked as a neurology nurse, or nurse practitioner, for 12 years before becoming bringing her experiences here.
This is Husong’s first opportunity to work with service members.
“I think it’s great to provide care for service members who provide the safety for us,” she said.
She said service members are susceptible of TBIs over their career in training, garrison, and combat environments.
“It’s been completely different from the civilian world. It’s a lot more in depth as far as TBIs go. It’s not just one TBI you’re dealing with, it’s usually multiple,” she said.
Acute TBIs are seen by the GLWACH emergency room and consolidated troop medical clinic for care. A primary care manager or assigned provider can give referrals for the TBI clinic based on their assessment and patient symptoms.
In addition to service members, Kenneth Reinhard, TBI clinic liaison and program manager, said the clinic is open to a large population of the community.
“All adult population active duty, spouses, family members and retirees are eligible for care for TBI and all other neuropsychological issues to include, but not limited to: Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis,” he said.
Reinhard added services not available here are given over Telehealth.
“Since there is no dedicated neuropsychologists at GLWACH, this benefit allows for in-house care without the service member travelling outside the local area for the consultation,” he said.