Alexander Balbir, PhD: Dispelling Misconceptions Around TBI and PTSD

Because Wounded Warrior Project works with many vets who have TBI and/or PTSD, staff hear many misconceptions. One misconception is that there are no treatments for TBI and PTSD. Not true. There are gold-standard treatments to heal people with PTSD and there are very effective rehab programs for people with TBI. Also, people need to remember that both of these conditions are often invisible wounds and can affect anyone—male, female, young, old, and so on.

Dr. Alexander Balbir is the Director of Independent Services at Wounded Warrior Project.

For information about treatments for brain injury please visit The Treatment Hub.

One specific misconception is that treatment’s not available, but yet, treatment is available for both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. There are gold standard treatments for post-traumatic stress. We use those gold standard treatments in almost all of our programming at Wounded Warrior Project - our clinical mental health programs, including our Warrior Care Network. And we also have some great wraparound services as well, that support some of those gold standard treatments. Traumatic brain injury requires a significant amount of rehabilitation, and rehabilitation does work and we do have programs to help support that. So care is available, and care is effective and we do have a wide variety of programs and access to a wide variety of clinical care opportunities that meet the needs of an individual. Maybe this particular treatment doesn’t work well for one person. Then there are alternatives that we can look at as well. So, we have that opportunity. So care is available. Another misconception that we really see with the traumatic brain injury population is that there is this misperception about what a traumatic brain injury patient looks like. And it’s not always a male, with an amputation or in a wheelchair. Females as well have sustained traumatic brain injuries and we work with a lot of females in our programs as well, to help them with their traumatic brain injury. But the issues that we primarily deal with in traumatic brain injury are the invisible wounds, the cognitive piece to it, the memory piece. The safety issue - someone who doesn’t understand their circumstances and their surroundings because of their inability to process things from a cognitive perspective. That’s what we see. And we see someone who is walking around, talking to everyone, but will not remember the entire conversation. Will not remember to turn the stove off after they’re done cooking. It’s these sorts of things that can jeopardize the safety. So that’s really something we want to look at and really break down those personas that describe an individual because the invisible wounds are just as catastrophic as the visible wounds. BrainLine is powered in part by Wounded Warrior Project to honor and empower post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families.

Posted on BrainLine September 27, 2021. Reviewed September 27, 2021.