New facility will address TBI, PTSD in returning soldiers
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 13, 2010
My friend Don served 19 years active duty in the Marine Corps before he was injured by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2003. He was flown by medivac back to the States, where his family was told that his brain injury was so severe he would never again be able to function on his own. He couldn’t feed himself, go to the bathroom by himself, read, write or talk. But within two years, he had proved the doctors wrong.
By the time I met Don, it was hard to tell, excepts for short pauses in his speech and some unsuccessful attempts at multitasking, that his brain wasn’t in tip-top shape. He drives, he reads to kids, he volunteers in disaster areas, he is articulate and well-read, and I can always count on him for a thought-provoking conversation.
Last month, he picked me up, and we drove to Bethesda Naval Medical Center, where we took a hard-hat tour of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), a privately funded facility that will focus exclusively on traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological health issues.
Don told me that in 2003, his was one of the first brain injury cases military doctors faced. “There was no protocol for it,” he said. “They didn’t know what to do with me.” That’s far from the case today. Sadly, there are so many returning soldiers suffering from TBI and PTSD, many of the cases undiagnosed, that it’s become a priority in military medicine.