US Army: Nearly 20 Percent of Veterans Have TBI

January 24, 2008

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Nearly 20 percent of veterans returning from war have experienced a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to an Army task force report released at a press conference on January 17. The chairman of the task force, Brigadier General Donald Bradshaw, said the armed forces are "challenged to understand, diagnose and treat military personnel who suffer with mild TBI." The report’s findings were finalized in May 2007.

The Army estimates that up to half of troops experiencing mild TBI face enduring symptoms, including mood swings, headaches, and memory loss. Experts also noted that the symptoms of TBI can mirror those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complicating efforts to screen and treat brain trauma. While the task force report called for changes in screening and treatment for TBI, some steps have already been taken since May to improve the process, including TBI screening for all troops brought to a military care facility from a war zone.

The Academy has been deeply involved in improving screening and care for veterans with TBI and related conditions such as epilepsy. Physician advocates such as John Booss, MD, and Brien Smith, MD, have appeared before Congress to seek support for rehabilitation, training, and related services for returning veterans with TBI and post-TBI epilepsy.

For more information on the Academy’s involvement in TBI care for veterans, contact Amy Kaloides at akaloides@aan.com.