Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become the signature wound from the conficts in Iraq and Afghanistan. An April 2007 study at Fort Carson showed that almost 18 percent of veterans returning from the Iraq theater sustained a brain injury during their service. TBI is associated with cognitive dysfunction, post-traumatic epilepsy, headaches and other motor and sensory neurological complications.
Despite the prevalence and severity of TBI among these veterans, soldiers are not being routinely screened for brain injury. Absent routine screening, soldiers with TBI are often slipping through the cracks, making it difficult to accurately diagnose and treat their condition.
Additionally, neurological services within the VA are not receiving the resources required to treat the needs of returning combat veterans. For example, the VA has been reducing services for veterans with epilepsy even as new cases emerge due to wartime TBI. The current framework of treatment, research and training for epilepsy care within the VA system is undersupported and insufficient to meet the needs of these veterans.
Congress should take the following steps to improve TBI diagnosis and care for our returning veterans:
The Academy has developed an advocacy toolkit (to the right) to help you advocate on this important issue.