More than 2.4 million brain injuries occur each year in the United States. Brain injuries are one of the most common injuries in the military, but they can happen to anyone. This March, you can take part in Brain Injury Awareness Month to help raise awareness about preventing and treating brain injuries. The Brain Injury Association's theme this year is "Not Alone," and the campaign will focus on destigmatizing brain injuries, empowering brain injury survivors, and helping survivors find the support and treatment they need.
Traumatic Brain Injuries In The Military
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an external blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the brain's normal function. TBIs can be classified as mild, moderate, severe or penetrating. Most TBIs result in a concussion and are categorized as mild.
Compared to the general population, active-duty military members are at a higher risk for a TBI. Part of this is because men ages 18-24, the most common demographic in the military, are already at an increased risk for TBI in general. Another factor is the dangerous situations military personnel are exposed to in combat and in garrison. Blasts, bullets, shrapnel, falls, vehicle crashes or rollovers and assaults can all cause a TBI. On base, sports and other activities can cause TBIs as well.
Effects Of Military TBIs
TBIs can cause an array of symptoms that have short- or long-term effects on the victim's quality of life. These include:
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbance, dizziness and balance problems, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, visual disturbance and ringing in the ears.
- Cognitive symptoms such as problems concentrating or paying attention, memory gaps, slowed thinking and difficulty finding the right words.
- Emotional symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression and mood swings.
Because military TBIs can occur in combat, many of them are also associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological damage.
PTSD can occur to anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, but the rate of PTSD among veterans who also have a TBI is much higher than the rate among civilians with PTSD. It's estimated that up to 35 percent of veterans who have even a mild TBI are also living with PTSD.
Both TBIs and PTSD can affect a person's memory, sleep and emotional wellbeing, while causing fatigue, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. The symptoms for PTSD and TBI can become intertwined when a veteran is diagnosed with both, making treatment even more challenging.
Spread Awareness About TBI Prevention And Treatment
Following safety precautions such as wearing the proper gear and avoiding unnecessary danger can help prevent some TBIs. Unfortunately, many military TBIs can't be prevented due to the dangerous nature of war. However, learning the signs and symptoms can help active duty military members recognize and seek treatment for TBIs.
Awareness can also help prevent injuries such as multiple concussions. Symptoms from TBIs can dissipate over a course of several days. More severe injuries can leave a longer – or even permanent – impact. Seeking treatment for TBIs is important. Doctors can help you manage the effects of TBI and learn how to cope with changes. Your family doctor, a local VA medical center, or a mental health professional can all offer help or point you to TBI specialists.
Donate Your Car To Help Disabled Veterans
Many veterans who have suffered a TBI are living with a disability as a result of their injury. You can help fund services for disabled veterans when you donate your car to Vehicles For Veterans. We accept nearly all makes and models of vehicles, and the proceeds from auctioning or recycling them benefit services for disabled veterans.
If you have an unwanted car, truck, boat, RV, motorcycle or other vehicle, you can give it a greater purpose by donating it today! Brain Injury Awareness Month is a great time to give back to veterans who have given so much with their service.
To make a car donation, please call 1-855-811-4838 or complete an online car donation form. In addition to helping veterans, you'll receive free towing and a great tax deduction. You won't regret it!