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Brain Injury Awareness Month

TBI patient with nurse

Quality of care for Veteran’s includes raising awareness around important health topics. By highlighting some of the national health awareness campaigns each month, Veterans can get ideas, information, and resources on a variety of health matters.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and we want to raise everyone’s awareness on this serious condition. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when there is trauma to the head and the brain is damaged to some degree.  TBI can cause a variety of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral issues, and outcomes can vary from total recovery to permanent disability or even death.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased the number of Veterans with TBI.  Since 2007 VA implemented mandatory TBI screenings for all Veterans getting care in VA that have served in combat operations and separated from active duty after September 11, 2001.

Each brain injury is different and symptoms can vary in each person.  Damage to different parts of the brain will result in different symptoms.  TBI shares symptoms with other physical and mental health conditions, making it more difficult to diagnosis.  Below are some of the signs and symptoms.  Having some of them, however, does not necessarily mean a person has TBI.  Only a health care provider can identify and diagnose a TBI. 

Some signs of TBI immediately after injury:

• Being dazed and confused
• Not remembering the injury
• Losing consciousness (being knocked out)

Common signs of TBI later on:

• Persistent headache or neck pain
• Sensitivity to light and noise
• Loss of balance
• Changes in sleeping patterns
• Feeling tired all the time or lacking energy
• Ringing in the ears
• Loss of sense of smell and taste
• Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking or reading

Recovery from brain injury depends on the degree of damage and is different for each individual.  Immediate medical treatment is very important for preventing further damage.  Severe injuries often require surgery to repair damage to the brain.  For many people with TBI there is medication and alternative medicines which can alleviate symptoms such as headaches, chronic pain, behavioral problems, depression and seizures. There are also rehabilitation treatments available, such as counseling and physical therapy that often lead to a patient’s full recovery. That’s why it’s important to speak to your health care provider if you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms.  By consulting with your health care provider they can make sure you get the treatment that is right for you.

Below are resources that can help you and your family learn more about Traumatic Brain Injury. 

Resources  (click links below to open in new tab)

VA Polytrauma System of Care

Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury – Make the Connection

VA’s Traumatic Brain Injury Independent Study (PDF)

VA’s Concussion Coach Mobile App