New Military Rules Help Diagnose Brain Trauma Among Troops

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More good news on the military front: A new military order has resulted in 9,000 service members being temporarily removed from combat in order to check for signs of brain injury after blasts, even if the soldiers have no obvious wounds or display no signs of immediate trauma. Most of the service members appeared to check out ok (in 90% of the cases, the mild trauma seemed to go away after a few days), but the new policy, which requires combat troops to leave the battlefield for 24 hours if they have been caught within 165 feet of a blast, has helped military doctors diagnose hundreds of concussions among combat troops—according to USA Today, the number of concussions diagnosed jumped from 62 in June to 370 in July, when the new policy was enacted. This is particularly encouraging to see after the uptick in the number brain injuries that have occurred among military personnel over the last 10 years.

We’ve covered the topic often, so we’re glad to see that brain injuries are getting the attention they need in order to help lessen the severity of the cases observed among military personnel.  Though the data shows an increase in the number of concussions diagnosed in the last several months, the good news is that:

a.) The policy change demonstrates that the military takes traumatic brain injury (TBI) seriously and considers the health of its men and women above the number of troops in combat

b.) It suggests that the new protocol will help identify and protect more soldiers from the permanent brain damage that can occur if they sustain another brain injury before the first injury has had time to heal.

Without the new rules, it’s possible that thousands of brain injuries could be missed, just as they may have been in the past.

While we can’t know for certain what the effects of the new policy will be in the long run, it is nice to know that the military is putting great effort into making sure our service members are properly screened, diagnosed, treated, and monitored in the event that they have sustained a brain injury. With this new policy in place, let’s hope that we will start to see a decline in the severity and number of traumatic brain injuries that have affected the military over the past several years.

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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