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Traumatic Brain Injury
This video about veterans living with a traumatic brain disorder is part one of three in the In Their Boots documentary series.

A brain injury is a long-term or temporary disruption in brain function resulting from injury to the brain. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when there is a strong enough impact to the head to cause damage to the brain. Common causes of TBI include motorcycle accidents, sports injuries, falls or acts of violence.

TBI has been called the “signature injury” of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Increasingly, soldiers are surviving nearby bomb blasts, which produce brain injury through pressure waves that “shake” the brain, which can cause symptoms ranging from dizziness and drowsiness to vomiting, severe headache and shock. If the injury is severe enough the damage can be irreversible, leaving lasting mental effects including depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out and social inappropriateness. TBI can cause changes in personality, thinking and sensation and increase the risk of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. 

In soldiers, the symptoms may also overlap with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), making it more difficult for doctors to treat.

The outlook for service members with TBI is improving, in part due to increasing military focus on brain injury treatment, like the new Concussion Restoration Care Center for Marines in Afghanistan. Another new program, run by the National Naval Medical Center’s Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Team, offers hope to veterans with multiple issues by treating their TBI, PTSD and substance abuse simultaneously. Another promising development is a new study investigating the use of video games to treat TBI. Injured veterans are already using the Wii as part of their rehabilitation.

Veterans affected by TBI and their families often need help navigating the system and support that takes into account the special needs of veterans. The good news is that there are many others who have been touched by a TBI and are trying to help others. See this Washington Post Q & A with Cheryl Lynch, mother of someone living with a traumatic brain injury and founder of American Veterans with Brain Injuries.


Post-deployment Brain Responses
Online: 15 minute lecture series from Massachusetts General Hospital on PTSD and other brain-related responses.

Video: Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury
This video from and features several people living with TBI discussing their recovery.

American Veterans with Brain Injuries (AVBI)
This peer support network and information resource to the families of American service members and veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Some of the kinds of support available include live chat, a forum and personal stories.

The Brain Injury Association of America
The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is the leading national organization serving and representing individuals, families and professionals who are touched by TBI. See their directory of state offices and links to research and legislation.

Dr. Glen Johnson's "Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide"
Dr. Glen Johnson's "Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide" Dr. Glen Johnson, a clinical neuropsychologist, offers this free online book providing information on TBI in clear, easy-to-read language.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke developed this TBI information page.

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control's fact sheet on TBI.

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE)
This site offers many resources for veterans and their families, incuding a 24-hour information line.

More Resources...

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