Since 2000, more than 347,000 service members have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
A TBI occurs when a blow or sudden jolt—like from a motorcycle accident, fender-bender, gun recoil, or tackle during a friendly game of football—causes the brain to hit the skull and disrupts normal function. The result can be a mild, moderate, or severe brain injury.
The most common type of brain injury in the military is mild TBI, also known as concussion. This is a hot topic in the sports world.
So what do you need to know about TBI to stay prepared?
1. Early treatment = better recovery
Getting treated for a TBI as soon as possible is proven to help with recovery. Know when to seek treatment by learning the signs and symptoms of TBI, which may include:
- Headache or pressure in the head
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurred eyesight
- Confusion or memory loss
- Ringing in the ears
2. It’s never too late for help
Seeking expert advice is beneficial any time after your brain injury – no matter how long it’s been. Watch retired service member Ed Rasmussen talk about improving his symptoms and quality of life even after delayed treatment.
3. Most people with a concussion recover within days or weeks
Concussions are usually a temporary disturbance of brain function rather than damage to the actual brain. More than 80 percent of Soldiers fully recover from a concussion, often within a few weeks of injury. Not seeking immediate evaluation and treatment after an injury may cause lingering symptoms. Former Army medic Randy Gross suffered from a mild TBI during a car accident, but was able to fully recover quickly with proper treatment.
4. Concussions are more common in non-combat settings
Although you can get a TBI in combat, most Soldiers are injured in:
- Training-related incidents
- Vehicle or motorcycle accidents
- Playing sports
The good news is you can prevent most brain injuries by taking simple safety measures such as wearing your seat belt, using protective gear, and using non-slip mats in bathtubs and showers. Check out these concussion prevention tips.
5. Rest is crucial for full recovery
Soldiers recovering from a TBI need proper rest. This includes physical rest (such as limiting physical exercise) and cognitive rest (such as limiting computer use and reading). Medical health professionals recommend you rest for a minimum of 24 hours after experiencing a TBI before returning to your normal activities. Those who do not rest are at greater risk of getting another concussion before fully recovering, which may cause further injury to the brain.
Experiencing a mild TBI can have an immediate impact on your day-to-day functioning but most Soldiers fully recover with proper medical attention.