March 6, 2014
By Corretta Custis, RN, ADC, Nurse Case Manager, Kenner Army Health Clinic
FORT LEE, Va. (March 6, 2014) -- March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and many people may have a co-worker, battle buddy, friend, neighbor or spouse who is dealing with a brain injury.
They may have complaints of headaches, dizziness, irritability and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).
You may notice that they are easily confused or distracted, have a hard time completing tasks, and seem to be forgetful. They may be dealing with a brain injury or Traumatic Brain Injury.
A Traumatic Brain Injury -- according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- occurs when an individual has sustained a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.
According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, it is not uncommon.
Nearly 1.7 million people sustain a TBI every year in America. While most people are able to return quickly to their daily lives, at least 125,000 people yearly are considered permanently disabled.
"Knowing the signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury is key because TBI can happen to anyone whether it happens while playing sports, at work, or just slipping on an icy sidewalk," said Col. Richard Prior, deputy commander for nursing, Kenner Army Health Clinic.
"The signs and symptoms include but are not limited to headache, confusion, dizziness, or nausea," said Prior.
Injuries can range from "mild" to "severe," with a majority of cases being concussions or mild TBI.
The military community has higher rates of concussions than its civilian counterparts, mostly due to specific job duties, deployments and physical requirements.
For the military service member, blast exposures are the primary mechanism of injury.
When we look at children and teens, the main reasons for emergency department visits related to head injuries are bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer.
You may wonder how to prevent concussions.
There are several simple steps to help prevent concussions that include proper utilization of seat belts and properly fitted child safety seats while riding in a motor vehicle.
When participating in activities such as bicycling, football, hockey, skates, skateboards, baseball, softball, horseback riding and skiing and snowboarding be sure to wear a helmet.
What to do if you or someone you know may have had a concussion? If anyone suffers a concussion they need to be evaluated by a health care professional immediately after injury and may require ongoing evaluation and treatment.
What resources are available at Fort Lee? The first line resource for evaluation of possible TBI symptoms here at the post would be through your Primary Care Provider.
He or she will be able to further direct your care for possible TBI through utilization of local network specialty providers or Virginia Hospital for our active duty population.
For further information on concussions or Traumatic Brain Injury: visit www. Cdc.gov or www.dvbic.org.