Written by: Mason Gold, Intern, MFLN Military Caregiving concentration.
March is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) awareness month and according to the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE), over 430,000 service members have sustained a TBI.
In the military, service members can sustain a TBI not only in combat operations from blast-related events but also everyday activities, such as participating in recreational events and military training. The majority of TBIs sustained in the Armed Forces are classified as mild TBI or concussion. Those that sustain a mild TBI, typically return to duty within 10 to 14 days (DHA, 2020).
Symptoms related to TBI can range from headaches, irritability, and sleep disorders to memory problems, slower thinking, and depression (DVBIC, 2019). These conditions often lead to long-term mental and physical health challenges.
Tips for Individuals with TBI
Since no two brain injuries are exactly the same, symptoms vary from person-to-person. It’s important to have a plan and a list of steps to follow to improve quality of life for those with a TBI. Steps include:
- Develop a routine. This can help those who struggle with planning and organization.
- Label your living space. Labeling common items you use every day can help you navigate your home more easily.
- Track your symptoms over time. A simple log of day-to-day symptoms can help you and your doctor determine if your treatments are working
- Cultivate patience. It will be an adjustment learning to live with TBI, so exercising patience and self-compassion whenever possible will help reduce stress.
- Simplify your life. Some tasks may seem overwhelming, it may be helpful to break down tasks into smaller tasks to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Resources for Caregivers
A brain injury affects not only the service member but the entire family. Caregivers play an integral role in helping wounded warriors recover more fully and lead better lives. Below are several TBI resources and tips for caregivers as they navigate their new normal.
- I’m Caring for a Veteran with TBI – What do I need to Know?
- Caring for Veterans with TBI
- Invisible Wounds at Home – What is TBI?
- Invisible Wounds at Home – TBI What Family Members Can Do
- DoD Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence
DoD TBI worldwide numbers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2021
Tips for Living with TBI. (n.d). Retrieved March 19, 2021