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Pentagon Puts Its Spin on Brain Injuries

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 9, 2010

After Our Investigation, Pentagon Puts Its Spin on Brain Injuries

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR

ProPublica and NPR reported today that the military is failing to diagnose soldiers who suffered brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. It didn’t take long to get a response. Soon after learning that the stories were about to air, the Pentagon’s public affairs machine began circulating talking points on traumatic brain injuries—just in case senior medical commanders weren’t up to speed on what the military’s been doing for troops with one of the wars’ signature wounds.

The talking points, which we obtained and were sent to top Army officials, don’t directly address the findings of our investigation [1]. We found that the military’s system has repeatedly overlooked soldiers with so-called mild traumatic brain injuries. These blast injuries, which some doctors call concussions, leave no visible scars but can cause lasting physical and mental harm in some cases. The Pentagon’s official figures [2] say about 115,000 soldiers have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury since the wars began. But we found that military doctors and screening tools routinely miss soldiers who have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries on the battlefield. Experts we interviewed and documents we obtained said the military’s count may understate the true toll by tens of thousands of soldiers.

The talking points are upbeat. One says that the Department of Defense has the “world’s best TBI medical care for our service members [3].” Leading neuropsychologists and rehabilitation therapists have told us that’s not true, however. They say the military doesn’t always provide the kind of intensive cognitive rehabilitation therapy most experts recommend. The talking points also stressed that one military screen, called the ANAM [4], for Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics, will be “utilized when soldiers come home [5] to help measure the effects of any identified mild brain trauma that may have gone unnoticed or untreated.”

But when we talked to the man who ran that program, he told us the ANAM was rarely used that way. Lt. Col. Mike Russell, the Army’s senior neuropsychologist, said that more than 580,000 ANAM tests have been administered to soldiers before they deploy to the battlefield. But doctors have only used them about 1,500 times to diagnose soldiers after they’ve suffered a blow to the head.

The talking points tick off a number of initiatives the military has undertaken to better diagnose and treat the soldiers. But as we note in our stories, the problem is not the lack of initiatives, it’s that nine years into the war, nobody at the Pentagon knows how big the problem is, nor how best to treat it. You can find the complete talking points memos [6] and PowerPoint [7] here.

Phone calls to the medical command’s spokeswoman were not immediately returned.  Original here

8 Responses to “Pentagon Puts Its Spin on Brain Injuries”

  1. Soldiers and contractors who landed in the military medical system after being in or near explosions were immediately placed on maximum doses of intravenous neurotoxic antibiotics due to MDR Acinetobacter baumannii contamination throughout our military medical evacuation system.
    See The Invisible Enemy in Iraq
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.02/enemy.html

    Not only were they not screening these people with blast injuries for TBI they were creating a very hostile environment for freshly compressed brain cells.

    The only response I’ve gotten from Walter Reed regarding this is that they had to deal with the Acinetobacter baumannii. Avoiding that bathing freshly compressed brain cells in neurotoxins is not a great idea does nothing to further future victims outcomes.

    My husband was on these toxic drugs for four months after a bomb went off directly at his feet. Many blast victims have been on them for much longer. The doctors at Lanstuhl began administering them as a precaution when he arrived.

    These consequences of rushing into war ill prepared to deal with the consequences are being brought to light thanks to T Miller and Propublica.

  2. Marlo Hone said

    I can tell you this. The Military will throw you away and tell you Veterans Affairs will take care of you now that you are injured. What a laugh. I have been fighting for 7 years to get some help. They deny your injury, don’t look at all your medical records, tell you that you are lying, then tell you never filed paperwork. When you did. Deny Deny DENY that is what they do. They refuse to take what has happen to many of us and stand up. Joe Smo does your paperwork when they feel like it. No over site. No one to turn to when they screw you. We are left out in the cold. With no job, no money, no health insurance. I loved being in the military. I loved my brothers and sisters in arms. I would love to stand with them everyday of my life. But when they were done with me they threw me away to nothing. NO help. THANKS

  3. Superman said

    Get a PET scan !!! IF you have to pay for it yourself get it. That will be un-disputable proof that these scumbag insurance companies will not be able to defend against. Even the V.A. fails to give Veterans PET Scans… because it proves without a doubt of the injury.

    What they want to do is give you a MRI or CT scan this does nothing and will show nothing more than if your scull has been deformed… you can look at yourself and know that. But to know how much brain damage or function is going on the key is a PET Scan.

    C.N.A. has admitted that PTSD and TBI are interrelated! Many have PTSD and can function, “hiding” the symptoms and even continuing to operate for years. Unfortunately the symptoms of PTSD are severely injuring the soldiers & contractors but they can still function. Upon suffering a TBI it causes that individual the inability to mask those issues from PTSD, resulting in severe exasperation of the PTSD and its symptoms. Therefore the TBI is the more serious injury.

    I read somewhere that 90% of the folks diagnosed with PTSD actually have a TBI. The symptoms over lap. The medical community knows what to do to but continue to fail to treat the injuries. You read that there is “Really no treatment for TBI” well let me tell you that’s BullS**t. First of all let me break it down for you.

    The TBI makes the PTSD worse, The TBI causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea, The TBI causes Pituitary Gland dysfunctions, which results in the lack of production of Vitamin D and Testosterone and B12. TBI also can cause seizures, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

    So lets break it down, knowing from basic research on the internet from numerous medical organizations there are undoubtedly connections so why are TBI patients not being screened for all these issues especially when they display the symptoms? Hell, TBI patients are not even being screened for TBI.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs are just as bad as AIG and CNA the V.A. are giving the soldiers ridiculous tests for example

    Apple, Orange, Tomatoes… now what did I say.

    If you remember this then the V.A. says “Oh you don’t have a TBI or maybe you may have a Mild TBI” they just don’t care. Go get a PET Scan that shows Severe damage and look at the reaction from the V.A. shock, amazement, any explanation why the incorrect diagnosis, you will receive nothing and then you will receive NO treatment.

    It is pretty easy to connect the dots. I just did.

    The hormone test is needed to display your low levels of Vitamin D, B12 or Testosterone that are essential in your diet. Just read about the slue of serious medical conditions related to the lack of these three items. All because of the damage to the Pituitary Gland from the TBI.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs, Aig, C.N.A all do not care they want you to die!

    They do not care.

    If they didn’t want you to die they would be treating and taking care of the TBI patients and they simply do not. Therefore you must take your treatment and care into your own hands… ask for the tests, demand for the tests to prove all your conditions, and then and maybe only then will they begin treatment.

    Remember the insurance company will deny diagnoses or any type of treatment that could prove your condition.

    They will attempt to say “You were never in any danger”

    Let me tell you anyone from a “Mail Clerk” to a “Cook” was in danger of rocket attacks and as anyone who served in a war zone clearly know that these folks in most cases are in more danger than the front line troops.
    As a soldier you would know if you were to attack the enemy what do you attack first? Your logistics. Your communications. Your support network.
    Guess what C.N.A & Aig that’s what our current enemy is doing, attacking our Support, Logistic, and Communication support. Lets break it down for these retards at C.N.A. and AIG I guess this is directed at their lawyers, example number
    1, Logistics means a truck convoy of food to support the troops. They enemy will attack and kill anyone they can and steal the food or supplies to use for themselves.
    Example number
    2, random rocket attacks, shooting as many rockets or mortars into the Green Zone randomly in the effort to obtain as many Causalities as they can. Therefore its clear there is no, “Safe Zone” no one is danger free. Humm Iraq and Afghanistan are listed officially a “War Zone” that is the entire country. The Red zone and Green Zone are both within that War Zone.
    I believe that is self explanatory.

    • Marlo said

      I so agree with you. But I must add this. I have not had any problems with the VA hospitals. It is the VA Benefits side that loves to screw with people. My VA doctors have stood by me and have been disgusted by the way that the VAB has treated me. My doctor even took it as far as calling up the the VAB to say what the ****.
      Don’t bother going to your congressmen they do not help. If anything they did more harm then good on my case. And the hope of the VAB is that you die before they have to give you any help.

      • Superman said

        ok has the VA given you a PET SCAN? Probably not. They wont spend the money. Ontop of that the PET Scan is the only scan that will show your damage. If damage is shown thenthey will have to pay. They do not want to. therefore they will deny deny deny

        • David Paul said

          My grandson, a Marine, has been home for 18 months. He has PTSD which still has not been diagnosed. He was in EOD and has had many severe concussions from the blasts. His vehicle also hit and IED. We was injured but survived. A neurosurgeon friend told me TBI must detected and treated quickly. After two years being untreated, the affected brain cells die! It is then too late. This often leads to depression and permanent personality disorders. Many are already beyond help for their TBI. The V.A. states now that they “lost” my grandsons medical records. He was told to file again and the benefits would not be retroactive. Some incompetency!!. Our government has already failed our courageous warriors. Join our mission to seek justice for our war heroes. We have written a proposal for a Veteran’s Bill of Rights. We will be contacting Congress and major media sources. We will drive on until our country is willing to protect our Veterans. Please check out our website and join us.

          • brit guy said

            Not just American veterans David they have also abandoned hundreds of foriegn nationals who fought the war on terror. The only reason is to line the pockets of greedy insurance companies and the scum that represent them.

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