By Spc. Paul A. Holston/XVIII Abn. Corps PAOMarch 22, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, Womack Army Medical Center provided an opportunity to learn and gain further knowledge of traumatic brain injuries and concussions by hosting a discussion panel March 7, at Weaver Auditorium.
This was the third year this type of discussion panel has been held and included doctors and physicians from Womack's Department of Brain Injury Medicine. The TBI panel included Dr. Steven C. Lewis, neurologist and chief of the Department of Brain Injury Medicine, Dr. Alan G. Finkel, neurologist, Capt. Henry McMillian, physical therapist, Dr. Amy Chang, neuro-optometrist, Dr. Robert L. Stegman, neuropsychologist and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Scott Klimp, physician assistant, Concussion Care Clinic.
"Traumatic brain injury is a transient or temporary disruption of brain function resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury," said Lewis. "The main symptoms of a traumatic brain injury or concussion are headache, vision problems, problems with balance, dizziness and cognition."
The panel was asked a variety of questions to include the categories of TBI, symptoms of TBI versus post traumatic stress disorder, how a Soldier is referred into the clinic and the continuity of care after a Soldier changes duty stations or ends their active term of service.
"There are three categories of TBI, which includes mild, moderate and severe," said Finkel. "It is based on an acute period at the time of the injury."
Finkel explained that the severity of brain injuries could be based on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is used to grade a person's level of consciousness on a scale of three to 15 based on verbal, motor and eye-opening reactions. A TBI with a GCS of 13 or above is considered mild, a nine to 12 is considered moderate and an eight or below is considered severe.
Mild TBI, also known as a concussion, is the most common form of TBI, he said.
"Mild TBI is about 90 percent of what we see here at Fort Bragg, if not more," Lewis said. "Ninety to 95 percent of people will completely recover from a concussion within a month, probably within a week."
Lewis emphasized to the audience that not all traumatic brain injuries are the same because the term itself covers a large scale of illnesses.
"The maximum opportunity to recover is to get early treatment and help as soon as possible," said Lewis.
For more information about traumatic brain injuries or concussions, visit the Concussion Care Clinic and Neuro-Rehabilitation Center on the second floor of WAMC or call 907-7860.