Professional football players with traumatic brain injuries were featured in a recent movie and were a significant part of Super Bowl 50 coverage. However, TBI is also now among the most significant veterans’ issues and they are the most known war-related injuries.
To address life-altering injuries such as TBI and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, the VA established the Polytrauma System of Care in 2005. PSC operates independently of other VA programs and provides a broad and multi-disciplinary care system and rehabilitation to veterans with at least two injuries that are physically disabling or defined as a psychological impairment. PSC is intended to treat veterans suffering injuries to numerous bodily parts and which ultimately lead to physical, psychological, cognitive and functional problems.
Earlier this month, the VA announced that the PSC conducted one million TBI screenings of Afghanistan and Iraqi combat veterans over the last 10 years. Through these screenings, the VA may provide assessment and treatment by specialists in rehabilitation, case management, training and education of veterans and their families, psychiatric and social support, re-entry into the community, advanced rehabilitation and access to prosthetic technologies.
Combat blast injuries in the Afghanistan and Iraqi conflicts frequently resulted in TBI. Symptoms may range from manageable to seriously disabling, and may even restrict a veteran’s long-term capacity to work and engage in daily life tasks.
TBI can cause severe headaches, loss of memory, tinnitus and diminished executive functioning skills. These symptoms are often related to the brain injury severity at the time of the injury.
The VA provides treatment at 110 polytrauma rehabilitation locations throughout the United States. These include five polytrauma rehabilitation centers that have comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation services and 87 polytrauma clinical support teams and 23 polytrauma network sites that provide comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation services.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “VA’s polytrauma system of care marks one million TBI screenings,” Accessed Feb. 22, 2016