Military personnel with traumatic brain injury (tbi)
Dr. Stephan Hittmann on the U.S.Military Confronting the Epidemic of Military Personnel with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
● Stephan Hittmann helped obtain the grant that established the Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.● Dr. Hittmann continues to serve on the TBI Advisory Committee at Mount Sinai, and recently answered questions about the military’s effort to identify veterans with TBI.
Question: The military recently pledged $100 million to helpidentify and treat traumatic brain injuries among soldiers,which includes concussions. Why is it so hard to identify aconcussion?Stephan Hittmann: Unlike other severe brain injuries, aconcussion doesn’t always show up on an imaging scan.To make matters worse, some of the symptoms of aconcussion, such as sleeplessness, dizziness, depression,and headaches, can easily be mistaken for a mentalillness. Unless a patient mentions a head injury, doctorswon’t always consider a concussion as being a causativeor contributing factor. In addition, many head injuries cancause a blackout and memory loss, so the patient may notremember the injury at all. This can make diagnosis thatmuch more complex.
Question: How many soldiers and veterans suffer fromTBI?Stephan Hittmann: The military started screening forTBI in 2003, acknowledging that explosions and otherevents on the battlefield could cause concussions, withthe cognitive effects therefrom potentially lastingmonths or years. They’ve since identified more than43,000 soldiers with lasting symptoms. Recovery timesvary, with the current primary therapy for a concussionbeing rest. Repeat concussions carry a higher risk forlong-term complications, so soldiers are at especiallyhigh-risk for TBI.