Military Personnel Experience Increase Risk of Traumatic Brain InjuryMay 16, 2017
At least 360,000 members of the U.S. military are living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).1 Many experts suspect that this is a gross underestimate due to the facts that:
- TBIs are notoriously challenging to diagnose – Early symptoms can be generic and mistakenly attributed to other conditions.
- Troops are commonly reluctant to seek TBI diagnoses and treatments – Research from the Pentagon has revealed that about 60 percent of U.S. soldiers who are experiencing TBI symptoms refuse to seek medical attention. This reluctance tends to arise from a fear of being treated differently by unit leaders or a fear of not being able to secure jobs in law enforcement after their military career.2
While the precise number of TBI survivors in the military remains elusive, one fact is certain: Troops are at a far greater risk of sustaining TBIs, when compared to civilians.
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Top 4 Reasons Why Military Members Have a Higher Risk of TBI
- Demographics – All branches of the U.S. military are largely made up of young males, most of whom are 18 to 24 years old. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), this is one of the highest-risk demographics for TBIs.
- Training & Operational Activities – These activities can be as physically demanding as they can be risky. From boot camp drills, weapons exercises, and combat, military members are regularly involved in aggressive, high-contact activities that put them at a high risk of head and brain injuries.
- Exposure to Blasts – When deployed, troops can be exposed to blasts that can cause TBIs. Land mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), grenades, and mortar rounds are just some of the types of blasts that deployed troops can experience. These can damage the brain far more extensively than, say, a car accident or sports injuries, because troops exposed to blasts experience the impact and the blast (as opposed to just the impact). One study found that about 80 percent of TBIs diagnosed in troops were caused by blasts (and other non-combat-related activities).3
- Multiple Deployments – Since 2001, at least half of the troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been deployed more than once.4 The more members of the military are exposed to combat and blasts, the more likely they are to suffer TBIs. Some research has even indicated that multiple deployments can increase troops’ risk of severe mental health outcomes by as much as 300 percent.5
What’s Being Done to Address Troops’ High Risk of TBIs?
Brain experts, military personnel and federal authorities have taken action to try to mitigate the risks and impacts of TBIs that troops face. Some of the steps that have been taken include:
- New TBI screenings – A Congressional mandate requires that all military members returning from deployment be screened for traumatic brain injury.
- New policy for treating TBIs – A policy issued by the Pentagon requires a mandatory 24-hour rest period for those who have been exposed to a blast and who have sustained at least three concussions. This policy also mandates a complete neurological assessment following the rest period.
While the efforts to promptly diagnose and treat TBIs in troops continue, it’s important for members of the military, their families and all TBI survivors to be aware that:
- There may be legal options for pursuing financial recovery after a TBI diagnosis.
- Financial recoveries for TBIs can be important to pursuing all necessary treatments and improving the quality of life for TBI survivors.
Diagnosed with a TBI? Contact a Houston Brain Injury Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a TBI, you may have legal options for pursuing financial recovery. You can find out more about these options by contacting a Houston brain injury lawyer at the Amaro Law.
Call (713) 352-7975 or email us to schedule a free consultation. We are ready to answer your questions and explain your options for proceeding with a potential claim. We are also ready to provide you with aggressive, effective advocacy to position your claim for any possible recovery.
1: According to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)
2: Pentagon research featured in a TBI exposé.
3: According to BrainLine
4: According to Brown University
5: According to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health