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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

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Fort Hood has a new weapon against one of it's greatest challenges.
For the first time ever, soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are being tested in virtual combat zones, where the very situations that caused their injuries are now helping them move forward.
SFC Jeremy Ricketts is among the first soldiers from Fort Hood's TBI Clinic to go through the new Warrior Readiness Assessment Program this week.
A convoy simulation is preparing him to rejoin his unit after a car accident in Iraq caused TBI, or a blow to the head that alters brain functions.
"The TBI is effecting my vision, my peripheral vision in and out, one of them doesn't focus properly, so now I got prescribed glasses," said Jeremy.
And if it hadn't been for this brand new program, he might never have pin-pointed the problem.
"The only way I understood about my eyes being bad is when I fired the rifle in the simulator, and my eye was not focusing left and right," said Jeremy.
Soldiers and therapists are already learning more about underlying problems for victims like Jeremy.
"There was some slowing in some of the decisions that they made, and they were actually able to self identify things they could brush up on, and so it was a really good assessment in having them do these functional activities," said the chief of Fort Hood's Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, LTC Scott Mitchell.
It's all about making sure they're at the top of their game, so they can get back to doing what they do best.
"Just to give the soldiers the idea that even if they get injured that they're not broken, and that they can get better, that they know that they can get back and know they're back to the fight," said LTCMitchell.
Jeremy says he's relying on this new training to get there.
"With eagerness comes patience. I really depend on the TBI Clinic to give me that forward step, that confidence I need," he said.
Therapists are on hand during the exercises, in case they become stressful for the soldiers.
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Now is it just me, or does anyone else see a problem with this? It's well known that once a person suffers a TBI, they are more likely to suffer another one. Also, "a 2009 study published by the American Journal of Public Health documents that troops who face multiple deployments are at a 300 percent increased risk of several mental health outcomes." So are they planning to deploy soldiers who've already had at least one TBI back into combat zones where they have an increased risk for another TBI? "...even if the effects of the initial brain injury have already resolved (6-18 mo post injury), the effect of multiple concussions over time remains significant and can result in long-term neurologic and functional deficits."  Check out our next post on Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome. 

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