Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a serious concern. The Department of Defense estimates that nearly twenty-two percent of combat casualties are attributed to TBI. Up to eighty percent of soldiers who have experienced a blast injury are thought to have also experienced some level of traumatic brain injury. And it is estimated that the number of soldiers who experience traumatic brain injuries is five times higher the number of those who end up with amputations.
How are VA medical centers, including the VA medical center in Los Angles, helping veterans recover from TBI?
How VA Medical Centers Help Veterans Recover from Traumatic Brain Injuries
VA medical centers play a huge role in the diagnosis and treatment of TBIs. Traumatic brain injuries are complex and the team working with TBI patients needs to have special training. That is why the Los Angeles medical center has created a specialized team of doctors called Polytrauma.
This unique group of doctors, nurses, and other staff members provide services that are unique to veterans who have had a brain injury. These services include the following.
- Blindness rehabilitation (Some TBI patients experience temporary blindness. In some cases, with proper exercises, patients can regain their sight.)
- Occupational therapy
- Recreational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Social work
- Physical therapy
Of course, before any therapy begins, the vet is usually properly diagnosed. This, too, requires special training, as it can be a difficult condition to diagnose. There are no special tools that can check for a mild TBI. The typical method of diagnosis is via an interview between the patient and a properly trained physician.
Levels of TBI
There are varying degrees of severity when it comes to traumatic brain injury. Most traumatic brain injuries benefit from immediate treatment, as the symptoms can prove to be life-altering and even dangerous.
1. Mild TBI
A mild traumatic brain injury can cause dizziness, chronic headaches, insomnia, and sensitivity to light and/or sound. Sometimes, the symptoms take up to twenty-four months before they manifest. Besides the symptoms of a mild TBI, service members are more prone to experiencing increased likelihood of PTSD, depression, and other psychiatric disorders.
2. Moderate & Severe TBI
Moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries can result in life-long mental health issues. Not only are veterans at a higher risk for psychiatric issues, depending on where in the brain the injury occurred, they can experience difficulty speaking, eating, and walking. However, there have been many service men and women who have been able to make astounding recoveries through the use of ongoing therapies, including physical, cognitive, and vocational.
VA Medical Centers: At the Forefront of Treating Veteran TBIs
The VA medical center in Los Angeles, as well as those throughout the U.S., is committed to providing the care veterans need. This includes treatment and rehabilitation services for traumatic brain injuries sustained in combat. Services like these will become even more prominent as more soldiers experience these specialized types of injuries.