The weapons of war have changed dramatically with the advent of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and so too, have the injuries of war. Much has been written about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and while it is not new or restricted to war, it has become synonymous with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. To increase awareness of TBI and its effects, the Brain Injury Association of America recognizes each March as Brain Injury Awareness Month.
A Head for the Future
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center will mark this month with public outreach events across America. They will have representatives providing information and resources at VA facilities, medical treatment facilities and community events. During kickoff activities at the recently dedicated TBI National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Fort Belvoir, VA, Army Col. Sidney Hinds announced a new program called A Head for the Future to be launched later in the month. The program will promote brain injury awareness, education and prevention measures.
In the military, traumatic brain injury can occur in training as well as in combat, with the vast majority being considered mild (i.e. concussions). According to statics published by the DOD, the Army has experienced the highest incidence of mild TBI with the numbers increasing dramatically from just fewer than 5,000 to almost 20,000 between 2005 and 2007. From 2007 to 2011, the number of soldiers experiencing a mild TBI remained at just under 20,000. As a result, the military has invested over $600 million since 2007 on studies and treatment for mild to severe traumatic brain injuries.
In December of 2013, the Department of Defense created the world’s first human brain tissue bank for military personnel in order to study the long-term effects and treatment of brain injury. The primary focus is on how bomb blasts affect the human brain. The hope is that, by studying brain tissue impacted by bomb blasts, researchers can develop ways to diagnose, treat and ultimately, prevent injury from occurring.
“The Army has experienced the highest incidence of mild TBI with the numbers increasing dramatically between 2005 and 2007.”
The challenge for the center will be in getting family members to donate the brains of their deceased loved ones who experienced a TBI. The center will also accept tissue from servicemembers who did not have brain injuries so that comparisons can be made between brains affected by a TBI and those that were not. The center will work in conjunction with other nationally recognized research facilities and their results will be shared with the civilian medical community as well. The center is located in Bethesda, Maryland at the Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences.
Brain Injury Awareness Day Happenings
Wednesday March 12, 2014 is proclaimed as Brain Injury Awareness Day and several events have been planned to take place on Capitol Hill. There will be a Brain Injury Awareness Fair from 9 am-2 pm in the Rayburn House Office Building Foyer. The US Capitol Visitor Center will host a briefing on returning to work after a brain injury. That event is scheduled to run from 2:30 to 4:00 pm. The day’s events will close out with a reception celebrating Brain Injury Awareness Month back at the Rayburn House Office Building from 5pm to 7pm. All events are open to the public.