Did I suffer a TBI while deployed? What steps do I take to find out?
The signs and symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are manifested in many ways and are often individual. Basic signs and symptoms include, change in memory/focus, headaches, sleeping difficulty, loss of sex drive, confusion, emotional changes (anger, sadness), visual changes, sensitivity to light, difficulty thinking or paying attention.
TBIs can occur if you hit your head and/or if you are near a blast. You do NOT have to lose consciousness in order to suffer a TBI. If you were near a blast or your vehicle was hit by an IED or EFP, you need to be evaluated for TBI. It is OKAY to be evaluated weeks, months, or years after you were involved in or near an explosion!
Diagnostic Process:(be prepared to request or insist on these exams specifically) *Brain MRI (Note: They are often NOT positive, but necessary in the diagnostic process) *Vision exam by opthalmologist (make sure they know you were exposed to a blast) *Neuropsych evaluation (series of exams to test brain function)
You can initiate this process with your primary care provider or by going directly to a TBI clinic.
Treatment options:(tailored to individuals based on neuropysch findings) -Occupational Therapy -Speech Therapy -Vision Therapy -Interactive Metronome **highly recommended computer-based program that has been successful in TBI rehab** (www.interactivemetronome.com to learn more about the program and find a provider near you. Requires referral for Active Duty if program is not offered by military TBI clinic).
Words of encouragement: You and your family members know YOU best. Even if you have been told that you do not have a TBI (before having the above tests) and you still notice changes or that "something about you isn't right", please continue to seek care and insist on going through the diagnostic process. Health care providers are often surprised at the exam findings because service members often appear so "normal" and healthy. Rehab has been working for many, so it is worth it! Please feel free to contact me via our "Contact Form" if you have questions or would like me to advocate on your behalf.