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Navigation: SOS Sisson > Traumatic Injury Blog
Jack Sisson's TBI Blog
A hug is duct tape for the soul.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
New Study Ties Concussions to Depression in Ex-NFL Players
New York Times, May 31, 2007 --
The rate of diagnosed clinical depression among retired National Football League players is strongly correlated with the number of concussions they sustained, according to a study to be published today.Read the complete article here.
Also, don't miss this site for more information about head injuries and football (from youth ball to the NFL).
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Working with the Invisible TBI Sufferer
Much of the content here on the TBI blog -- especially lately -- focuses on attention devoted by the media to traumatic brain injuries suffered on the modern battlefield. But veterans' hospitals and medical tents are far from the most likely places where you'll encounter someone suffering from TBI. Indeed, you may have to look no further than the next cubicle, desk, assembly-line station.
That's part of the message of a brief publication put out by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at West Virginia University. (124KB PDF version also available.)
Never heard of JAN? From their "About" page (emphasis added):
The Job Accommodation Network is a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) of the U.S. Department of Labor... JAN's mission is to facilitate the employment and retention of workers with disabilities by providing employers, employment providers, people with disabilities, their family members and other interested parties with information on job accommodations, self-employment and small business opportunities and related subjects. JAN's efforts are in support of the employment, including self-employment and small business ownership, of people with disabilities. JAN represents the most comprehensive resource for job accommodations available. JAN's work has greatly enhanced the job opportunities of people with disabilities by providing information on job accommodations since 1984. In 1991 JAN expanded to provide information on the Americans with Disabilities Act.Yeah: since 1984. Twenty-three years of something very like invisibility, and darn those big-government bureaucracies anyway. [Sarcasm off.]
The invisibility of JAN parallels the invisibility, for the most part, of brain-injured workers. Someone who's been in an automobile accident or suffered a football or boxing injury may or may not evidence physical symptoms, like scars, broken limbs, and other alterations in their appearance. But there's nothing intrinsically visible about a TBI. From the JAN site:
...There are several different types of TBI (TBI Recovery Center, 2006):With the possible exception of a skull fracture, in other words, everything going "wrong" with a TBI victim is going wrong inside:
...Symptoms of mild TBI include headache; confusion; lightheadedness; dizziness; blurred vision or tired eyes; ringing in the ears; bad taste in the mouth; fatigue; a change in sleep patterns; mood changes; and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking. The injury may or may not result in a brief period of unconsciousness.Even those TBI symptoms which are observable can be easily dismissed as symptoms of something else: not enough sleep, drunkenness or hangover, a bad chunk of pork in the lunchtime takeout.
Furthermore, the above list scarcely addresses the most potentially debilitating conditions resulting from a TBI:
Monday, May 28, 2007
Iraq War Continues to be Biggests News on TBIs
ABC30.com, 05/24/2007 - As many as 20% of service members returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan will have some level of traumatic brain injury.
This spring the Department of Defense acknowledged traumatic brain injury as a "significant health concern" and vowed to identify it among active duty troops. But many new cases are likely to emerge as troops transition to civilian life as veterans.
Military records show that 60% of the 25,000 war injuries to date resulted from explosive blasts like IED's or roadside bombs. And nearly 3,000 of the wounded are currently being treated for severe traumatic brain injury or TBI.
Fresno V.A. Hospital emergency room doctor James Lindsay says injuries in this war are different from other wars when bullets did the majority of the damage.
Dr. Lindsay, Fresno V.A. E.R. physician, says "there's less ballistic wounding from actual gunfire and more blast injuries and blast injuries typically produce traumatic brain injuries." And those blasts can leave an injury without ever breaking the skin.
Read the article here.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Iraq TBIs raise public's awareness, but at what cost?
News about brain injuries in Iraq doesn't stop:
Frontline combat troops in the Iraq war have at least a one in five chance of coming home with a brain injury, according to Chris Elia, a Veterans Affairs psychologist who spoke Friday about traumatic brain injuries in veterans at the second annual Black Hills Brain Injury Conference in Rapid City.What a shame that it's literally taken a war to bring TBI front and center. Hardly a day goes by now that TBI is not in the news, and word of advances in TBI research hits the media with unusual frequency. Advocates for brain injury research have wanted this for a long time, but who could have forseen that a war would be necessary to accomplish it? The universe does indeed work in mysterious ways, but I can't imagine anyone who'd have chosen this route to brain-injury awareness.
Read the complete article here.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
TBI Leading Cause of Abusive Death in Children
Child Health News Wednesday, May 16, 2007 -- Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of abusive death in children and is especially common in abused children under the age of 4. Fifteen hundred children a year in U.S. are killed because of traumatic brain injury and those who survive are often devastated.
It is impossible to do randomized controlled studies of abusive head trauma but researchers need to develop improved tools to correctly identify and ultimately prevent this abuse according to Dr. Laskey.
"We have to understand abusive head trauma. Research in the field is in its infancy compared to what we know about other pediatric conditions. We need to increase both the volume and the quality of what we know. We need to know more and we can't until we have pediatricians and pathologists, the doctors who see these children, speaking the same language," said Dr. Laskey.
Here's the complete article.
Monday, May 07, 2007
A Signature in Blood -- and Neurons
No matter your politics, I hope you'd agree that it's a strange world in which wars are said, dispassionately, to have "signature injuries." For the American Civil War, maybe this was battlefield amputations; for World War I, trench mouth or gas-attack symptoms; for Vietnam, I guess, post-traumatic stress; and for the original Gulf War, various Agent Orange-related afflictions.
Here at sossisson.com, we've noted before (recently, for example, here) that traumatic brain injury is widely regarded as the signature wound of the current war in Iraq. This sad state of affairs has at last received Federal attention, in the form of a Congressional ruling that soldiers must be tested for TBI before and after their Iraq deployments. This news came at the end of last week, in a report from USA Today. This comes roughly concurrently with a report from the Defense Department itself, per the Associated Press.
From USA Today:
The Pentagon must use computers to screen troops before and after they go to Iraq or Afghanistan to better determine whether they suffered traumatic brain damage in combat, according to a plan by a congressional brain-injury task force...
And from the Associated Press:
Issuing an urgent warning, the Defense Department's Task Force on Mental Health chaired by Navy Surgeon General Donald Arthur said more than one-third of troops and veterans currently suffer from problems such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.There have also been a couple of other recent news items on this issue:
As increasingly elaborate body armour protects the torso, and even the limbs, the brain is still vulnerable to shock waves that helmets cannot deter... And these "closed-head" injuries are harder to treat than even those commonly suffered by motorcyclists.
As an aside, if you -- like I -- were previously unfamiliar with the term "Article 15": It refers to a section of the Universal Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ. Generally, it's one of the UCMJ's "punitive articles." According to Rod Powers, about.com's "Guide to the US Military," Article 15 is one of several proceduresAn MRI later showed that Thurman had lesions on the right parietal lobe of his brain, a condition that led to a “don’t deploy” order — which the Army violated, according to Thurman. Worse, rather than providing compassionate understanding of the symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury, he said leaders at Fort Carson, Colo., have harassed him, refused him medication and pushed for an Article 15.
whereby the commanding officer or officer in charge may:Note that the soldier whose case is covered in the Army Times piece claims about his post-TBI treatment that his superiors have "pushed for an Article 15." I understand that the military code of justice must be different than the civilian. But if this claim is at all true, I hope the military at least stops to reflect on ways in which Article 15 can be abused -- if not outright criminalizes the abuse.
[Updated 2007-05-09 7:56 pm]
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