Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) A Source of Concern at Many Levels!

From Capitol Hill to the National Football League, high-ranking officials have been addressing better treatment for head and brain injuries, which have been estimated to affect millions of people in the United States each and every year.

While U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton (New York) and Barack Obama (Illinois) have been campaigning hard for the Democratic ticket in the upcoming Presidential election, both have been recently involved in traumatic brain injury (TBI) legislation.

Clinton and Senator Evan Bayh (Indiana) recently sponsored legislation allowing traumatic brain injury victims to extend their "active duty" status for up to one year from when their injury was determined in order to receive the best treatment possible.

The current system requires those recovering from traumatic brain injury to either choose between active duty and receiving the best treatment possible from the Department of Defense or rather enter retirement status and receive treatment from their hometown VA facilities.

Bayh said in an ABC News story that these head injury victims are not often getting the type of care that they need at their local VA centers. Clinton added how not enough is being done to address traumatic brain injury and the fact that its symptoms may not become apparent for years to come. Clinton and Bayh called this brain injury legislation a temporary solution to the current system, which can be complicated and frustrated.

Clinton and Bayh would hope to ease some of this complication and frustration by mandating in their proposed traumatic brain injury law that each TBI victim get a "patient's advocate" to help them wade through the red tape.

A recent Associated Press story detailed the efforts of Obama and several U.S. legislators from Maine to improve treatment of traumatic brain injury. Obama and Olympia Snow recently joined together and introduced the Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefit Improvement Act of 2007, which would screen soldiers specifically for traumatic brain injury. Susan Collins, another U.S. Senator from Maine, has also introduced bipartisan legislation that would improve TBI treatment and provide more support for injured victims and families.

Representative Michael Michaud (Maine) emphatically said in that AP story that traumatic brain injury has become the signature injury of the Iraq War and even indicated that some soldiers could currently be fighting in the war without even knowing that they have TBI. War analysts were described in the story as estimating that TBI could manifest itself in 15 percent of military personnel who have already served or will serve in the Iraq War.

NFL Also Tackling Head Injuries!

Just a couple of months ago, Total Injury detailed the disturbing details surrounding the death of former All-Pro safety Andre Waters, who committed suicide last year. Last January, a forensic pathologist determined that Waters' death was largely a result of the brain injuries that he suffered from concussions during his 12-year-career. The pathologist determined that the impact of the 44-year-old Waters' head injuries were so severe that his brain tissue was equivalent to that of an 85-year-old man.

In reaction to complaints from members of Waters' family and other brain injury safety advocates, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has just announced that the league is requiring all team medical personnel attend a meeting on concussions in June.

Just last week, Goodell announced that all players will be required to take a baseline neuropsychological test determining cognitive abilities and memory and motor skills by the beginning of the 2007 season.

An Associated Press story detailed how some players have recently had baseline tests and would not be required to do so under the new policy. However, any football player who has not had a baseline test would be required to have one in order to suit up for the 2007 NFL season.

Goodell said in the story that "safety comes first" and added that such a policy would protect players who have suffered a concussion during a game from demanding to come back into the game. This new policy would more importantly allow medical personnel to examine whether any neurological changes have taken place after a player has suffered a concussion by using the baseline test as a point of comparison.

The NFL and its policy for studying head injuries has been the subject of much criticism over the years and recently from ex-players. In addition to the tragic Waters' case, a February Boston Globe story detailed how 34-year-old, former New England Patriots' linebacker Ted Johnson is already showing early signs of Alzheimer's disease as the result of several concussions from 2002. Johnson claimed in the story that he was told by Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick to rush back from a pre-season concussion and then sustained even more serious head injuries a couple days later after suffering another concussion.

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