USAToday.com has a recent article about the lack of follow-up care available to veterans of the Iraq War. From the emergency room in Baghdad through the acute rehab phase, veterans have a veritable dream team of quality care, but the continuum ends there. Here’s a snippet from the article:
“At many (VA) facilities, there just is no established traumatic brain injury program and they have no traumatic brain injury specialists,” Schuster said. “They kind of operate on a fill-in-the-gap protocol.”
Traumatic brain injury is becoming one of the signature combat wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with about 1,200 reported as of March.
In a recent study of 52 brain-injured veterans, including Ted Wade, the VA Inspector General found that access to care is frequently difficult and many veterans and their families reported problems dealing with the VA health care system.
What are the implications? My guess is that we’re going to see a deluge of Iraq TBI veterans filling up rehab beds outside of the VA system, to the point where they could overwhelm the current structures in place. I’ll be attending a NASHIA conference in September that will address this very issue, so I’ll follow up this post with more information at a later date.