Many troops unaware of brain injury, Army says

FRIDAY, JAN. 18, 2008

WASHINGTON – As many as 20 percent of U.S. combat troops who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan leave with signs they may have had a concussion, and some do not realize they need treatment, Army officials said Thursday.

Concussion is a common term for mild traumatic brain injury, or TBI. While the Army has a handle on treating more severe brain injuries, it is “challenged to understand, diagnose and treat military personnel who suffer with mild TBI,” said Brig. Gen. Donald Bradshaw, chairman of a task force on traumatic brain injury created by the Army surgeon general.

The task force, which completed its work in May, released its findings on Thursday.

It estimated that from 10 percent to 20 percent of soldiers and Marines from tactical units leaving Iraq and Afghanistan are affected by mild traumatic brain injury. The most common cause was blast from an explosion.

Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, light sensitivity, sleep problems, memory problems, confusion and irritability. With treatment, more than 80 percent of patients recover completely, the task force said.

In some cases, however, symptoms from the injury such as irritability affect a soldier’s interaction with his or her family and fellow soldiers, said Col. Jonathan Jaffin, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.


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