Traumatic Brain Injury and Month of the Military Child

What is DoD doing about Traumatic Brain Injury’s Impact on Our Service Members and Their Families?

In March, I read a book about a neurosurgeon’s life, “The Gray Matter” which delved into the intricacies of the brain and how the author, Dr David Levy, had helped save and improve lives through surgery on the brain. We have all been following Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords recovery from a penetrating brain injury in the news and the long road to recovery she is facing. With thousands of service member also having brain injuries from mild to severe the military community has a need for care and support as well.

The subject of brain injuries piqued my interest and I was excited to meet on Tuesday with the DoD Bloggers Roundtable with Ms Kathy Helmick, deputy director for TBI at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). She presented improvements that DoD has made and new methods to protect and care for those impacted by TBI.

As the lessons of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are learned, we find new ways to help our injured and protect them. Due to the fact that IEDs (improvised explosive device) have become the weapon of choice in both wars the number of TBI cases has significantly risen. Ms Helmick did divide TBI into two categories, severe (sometimes with penetration like Ms Gifford) and less than severe (such as a concussion). Under a new policy starting last summer, the military developed guidelines to identify potential concussion injuries in theatre to begin treatment quicker. The Military Acute Concussion Evaluation (MACE) is incident based and mandatory. If a service member is involved in an explosive incident, rollover or other potential brain trauma the policy kicks off a medical evaluation to determine if a concussion has occurred. The soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors can not be placed back on duty until this is completed to avoid the potential for a second incident that might create a more severe injury (like multiple injuries that boxers and football players have received).

During follow on treatment the medical community has also developed a unique tool kit with six guidelines meshed together to deal with multiple diagnoses such as TBI, PTSD, depression, etc. According to Hemlick this methodology does not exist in the civilian world as each illness or injury is treated on its own basis with no interaction between them. The tool kit is available to medical providers online at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. This is a great website with information for Service Members & Veterans, Family & Friends and Providers available.

The Family & Friends section has a Caregiver curriculum that consists of six modules and provides resources for the families of the TBI heroes. There are how to’s, help and assistance, etc listed in the modules. There is also an interactive map for finding a DVBIC location close to their home.

April is Month of the Military Child and their theme this year is Celebrate Military Children – the Strength of our Future so I asked about how we are helping the children impacted by a parent with TBI. Ms Helmick said there are now resources at Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury for military kids. When I went to the DCoE site it has featured content this month for resources for military children. She mentioned books for children such as “Our Daddy is Invincible” as well.

The Roundtable was a great way to spread the word about resources for our military community. Be sure to share this information with those you know! You might help a mom/dad dealing with a child’s fears and strengthen them for the future! Share this blog on your Facebook page for someone to see! These resources are there to help all of us!

Would you like to listen to this Roundtable? Go to DoDLive!

Photo Credit: Ms Kathy Hemlick, DoD LivebyColonel KonWednesday, April 06, 2011Military Life:,,,,,

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