U.S. Soldiers, Medics Suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries Overseas
By Gerri Elder
When we think about the noble young men and women who serve our country, we don’t always think about the injuries they sustain overseas – no matter how minor or severe.
According to CNN about 20 percent of soldiers in Iraq have been diagnosed with TBI, or traumatic brain injury, caused by the impact of explosive devices.
While it’s true that many American soldiers suffer from traumatic brain injury because they are around explosives on the battlefield, the medics who are overseas caring for the injured soldiers are suffering from TBI as well.
Though they aren’t necessarily in combat, that doesn’t mean they are free from exposure to explosive devices or personal injury - and often the medics even accompany soldiers on their missions, according to a CNN report.
TBI is more difficult to diagnose than visible injuries because it’s not a visible, physical wound. So all medics can do is treat symptoms and assess the signs.
The army uses a method called MACE to assess symptoms. MACE stands for military acute concession exam. Symptoms include concussions, whiplash, memory loss and severe headaches.
Symptoms are not always recognized quickly, and sometimes are not even noticed until a week or two later. Symptoms can be spotted easier by the medics who go out on missions with the soldiers because they can observe the soldiers’ normal behavior. If anything appears to be abnormal, they are more quickly able to realize the symptoms of TBI and send the soldiers back to the base for treatment.
Aid stations on smaller overseas bases are responsible for more than 300 soldiers and civilians, CNN reported. They are equipped to care for patients until they can be moved to a larger base for treatment. The smaller bases do not have the equipment to handle TBI.
TBI is becoming a serious issue for American soldiers in Afghanistan. If a soldier is diagnosed with traumatic brain injury three times, then he or she is pulled from the field and put on light duty so they don’t suffer from any further injuries.
Brain injuries are potentially permanent and can be life-threatening. They should be taken seriously because this could affect soldiers’ lives after returning from duty.