March 27, 2015 --
Every 23 seconds traumatic brain injury strikes, claiming 1.4 million new American victims each year. It knows no boundaries, and does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time to recognize and support the more than 5.3 million Americans, who are living with TBI-related disabilities, according to the Brain Injury Association of America.
“Those suffering from traumatic brain injury can display a wide variety of symptoms based on the severity of the injury,” Kirsten Pollick, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla.’s, neuropsychologist and mental health department head, said. “Common signs and symptoms include headache or neck pain; memory loss; slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading; getting lost or easily confused; fatigue and mood changes; blurred vision; and ear ringing.”
TBI occurs when an outside force impacts the head with enough force to move the brain within the skull, resulting in a direct injury to the brain. Rapidly accelerating and decelerating the head can also force the brain to move back and forth across the inside of the skull. This stress pulls nerve fibers apart and damages brain tissue and is known as a “coup–contrecoup” injury. A coup injury occurs under the site of impact with an object, and a contrecoup injury occurs on the side opposite the area that was impacted.
Signs and symptoms of TBI may be subtle and might not appear until days or weeks following the injury, while some symptoms can be missed altogether. Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it is often harder for them to let others know how they feel.
Most common sources of TBI are motor vehicle crashes, firearms, falls, sports and physical violence. Active-duty and reserve service members are at an increased risk for sustaining a TBI, due to deployment to areas where risks of experiencing blast exposures — such as improvised explosive devices — are high.
Marines, Sailors and family members with suspected brain injuries should seek medical care immediately by contacting their Medical Home Port teams to schedule an appointment, or if the situation is emergent, go to the emergency room or call 911.
To schedule an appointment with at Naval Branch Health Clinic, Albany, call 229-639-7886. To find out more about the TBI program, call 904-542-9133.