Renewed Push to Research, Evaluate, and Understand TBI in Military Zones

Traumatic Brain Injury patient's MRI scanThere is increasing attention being focused on the long-term impact of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Many specialized organizations are sprouting up to advocate for continued research and development involving TBI. One of the most notable organizations focusing on overseas injuries is the Veteran’s Health Initiative (VHI) which has the primary goal of furthering traumatic brain injury awareness advocacy, research, and medical improvements for those hurt in military zones. 

As the organization highlights, “over the last several years, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been thrust into the forefront of the consciousness of the medical community and the general public.”  The VHI points out that traumatic brain injuries overseas affecting both service members and military contractors are leading to an increase in awareness of this “silent injury.” Academic research into traumatic brain injury provides a foundation of knowledge on the subject. This research is proving critical in diagnostics and intervention for those injured overseas in military zones. But it is the recent increase in TBI victims that has spurred even further pushes to advance the science. Health care providers, government agencies, research and development teams, and even non-profits organizations continue to actively seek to further academic, scientific, medical, and other work in this regard. 

Traumatic Brain Injury: The “Signature” Injury of Overseas Contractors?

The long-term health consequences of traumatic brain injury are becoming increasingly known. This includes the effect the damage can have on one’s life, including the ability to work, socialize, and generally integrate back into a community. Because of the prevalence of TBIs in those working and serving overseas, many have taken to calling it the “signature” injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

These brain injuries “produce a complex constellation of medical consequences including physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive deficits [and] the impact is heterogeneous given the varied types of injury (closed, penetrating, blast), severity, comorbid conditions, and premorbid characteristics.” Furthermore, when assessing and supporting recovery, the practitioner must consider the profound impact psychosocial factors have on recovery.

Working Toward Better Knowledge

For their part, the VHI seeks to conduct various independent studies to create a “comprehensive program of continuing education designed to improve recognition and treatment of health problems related to traumatic brain injury.” Part of the mission is to foster continuing education among physicians, health care providers, veterans affairs professionals, and other practitioners that are involved in treating, managing, and counseling military professionals and military contractors that are currently suffering from traumatic brain injury-related medical conditions. As such, the organization seeks to develop learning educational modules, curriculum, training seminars, testing, and other educational tools by which to continue the clinical quality of health care providers.

From a clinical education perspective, the Veteran’s Health Initiative’s educational programs are crucial to such efforts. “The practitioner managing patients in the federal or private sector must acknowledge the impact of comorbidities that affect successful community re-entry. In particular, the combat experience may contribute to significant and sustained exposure to both physical and psychological trauma.”

In turn, the initiative attempts to educate that “these experiences can evolve into puzzling comorbidities which blur the diagnostic picture and care plan [and] the effects of the psychological burden and somatic dysfunction share similar symptom constellations as TBI, which complicates the diagnostic process [where] establishing a proper diagnosis is important.”

These and similar organization will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the future of all those who suffer a TBI while working overseas. They understand that to actively impart educational tools to healthcare professionals, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations with the understanding to effectively deal with traumatic brain injury, there needs to be a coordinated and cooperative effort in this regard. The dissemination and distribution of the latest and most comprehensive research and medical information regarding traumatic brain injuries can make a significant difference in the lives of military professionals and their families, especially where such research will greatly enhance their ability to cope, manage, and otherwise seek to live a full, normal, and productive life. 

The Defense Base Act Can Help

Military contractors and their families should remember that tools exist for all those hurt while working overseas. The Defense Base Act is a federal workers’ compensation system that provides fair and reasonable support for those harmed as a result of military contract work. This includes so-called “hidden” injuries like traumatic brain injury or even psychiatric injuries. Remember, you do NOT have to have a physical injury concurrent with a TBI or psychiatric injury to have a valid DBA claim.  If your spouse or loved one was injured while working outside of the United States as a U.S. government contractor, you should contact the Defense Base Act attorneys at Barnett, Lerner, Karsen & Frankel, P.A. today.

The Defense Base Act attorney is a critical advocate in these situations, as the procedure and law on this matter can be complex and confusing. Your attorney works with your employer and insurance carrier to ensure appropriate benefits are provided in as timely a manner as possible. Please reach out to our office today to see how we can help.