Blogs Articles Organizations Biography Jack's Book Contact Information Links

Navigation: SOS Sisson > Traumatic Injury Blog

Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

A hug is duct tape for the soul.


From The New York Times:

DEXTER, Me. — The roadside bomb that separated Sgt. Matthew Pennington from his left leg in 2006 also shattered his right leg and scorched his lungs. Those injuries he understood. But then came the ones he did not, the ones inside his head.

In the months after checking out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he found himself easily frustrated and, his wife said, perpetually angry. Envisioning threats in grocery stores and shopping malls, he stopped leaving his house and started drinking heavily. His marriage was near collapse when, in a fit of alcohol-fueled despair, he drove his car into a brick wall, emerging so dazed that he thought he was back in Iraq.
 “With a physical injury — three months, six months, whatever — your cuts will heal,” he said. But post-traumatic stress “is more difficult because people don’t see it.”
Like Mr. Pennington, many veterans injured in combat are finding that their invisible psychological and neurological wounds are proving more debilitating than their obvious physical ones. 
About 1,700 American service members have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan, most in roadside bombings that seared skin, shattered bones and damaged internal organs as well. Most of those troops also came home with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, which in many cases were not recognized for months.
While advances in prosthetics have made it possible for many lower-limb amputees to regain full mobility, the track record for overcoming brain injuries and chronic P.T.S.D. — both capable of altering personality and hampering mental functioning — is more spotty, experts acknowledge.
“I think the limiting factor for these people going back to their lives is not having lost a limb,” said Dr. Douglas Cooper, a neuropsychologist at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. “The P.T.S.D. symptoms and post-concussive symptoms are the ones that seem to get in the way.”
For Mr. Pennington, medications seemed to worsen his depression and therapy did not ease his anxiety. He seemed headed for divorce, isolation and perhaps alcoholism. And there his story might have ended, a case study on the intransigence of war’s psychological scars. But it did not end there. 
In 2009, an unexpected opportunity landed in his e-mail inbox: a casting call, forwarded by a friend in Nashville, from an undergraduate filmmaker looking for someone to play a combat veteran who had lost a leg, had post-traumatic stress disorder and lived in Maine.
This is my life, Mr. Pennington thought. 
So on a lark, Mr. Pennington — whose last appearance on stage was in middle school and who had become nervous in crowds and, indeed, avoided most human contact — decided that fixing his life depended on performing before a camera.
“I thought acting would be so out of the normal that it would force me to deal with things,” he recalled. “I wanted my life back.”
The struggle by wounded veterans like Mr. Pennington to reclaim their lives is the unfolding next chapter in America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2001, 46,000 American service members have been injured in combat, perhaps a third or more seriously. Those veterans now face years of rehabilitation at a cost of billions of dollars annually.
In the coming weeks, The New York Times will profile a few of those veterans. Their cases say much about the critical importance of high-quality health care and loving families. But as with Mr. Pennington, they also underscore the individuality of recovery, where the most effective therapies are often discovered by the veterans themselves.
Continue reading.

Labels: , , , , ,

TBI Film Reviews
TBI Book Reviews
Traumatic Brain Injury Law Blog
Brain Blog
Brain Blogger
SoapBlox/Chicago: Protecting Our Troops
Head Injury Survival Journal
Losing the Physical Self

Tower of Hanoi: Instructions for this popular puzzle can be viewed simply by clicking the Instructions button on that page.

May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   January 2009   March 2009   April 2009   December 2009   April 2010   May 2010   June 2010   July 2010   August 2010   September 2010   October 2010   November 2010   January 2011   February 2011   March 2011   April 2011   May 2011   June 2011   July 2011   August 2011   September 2011   October 2011   November 2011   December 2011   January 2012   February 2012   March 2012   April 2012   May 2012   June 2012   October 2012   November 2012   December 2012   January 2013   February 2013   March 2013   April 2013   May 2013   June 2013   October 2013  


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

FindingBlog - Blog Directory