Concussion Policy in the Military

Dr. Jack Tsao talks about recent policy changes and how all branches of the military are working together  to coordinate better concussion diagnosis and treatment.

We work very closely with the other services, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center and the Defense Centers of Excellence for psychological health and traumatic brain injury to coordinate policy. And so there's a DOD-wide instruction that governs the evaluation, management or treatment, and other aspects of reporting and documentation to the medical record for the Afghanistan and previously also the Iraq theaters. We and the other services are now formulating policy to ensure that the same level of care that goes on in the combat theater is also applied across the entire military healthcare enterprise. Ten years ago, we had no policy whatsoever, and the approach was essentially what people did in their local clinical care environments. So, we've managed to get a better understanding of what concussion actually is, how it shows up, there's now an official DOD definition of concussion, and the policies now state that, in certain circumstances, you have to have a clinical evaluation by a medic or a corpsman, which will enable a diagnosis of concussion to be made, if there is one to be made. And then in combat theater, there's a mandatory rest period after the initial exposure which could have caused you to have a concussion.
Posted on BrainLine February 4, 2014.

About the author: Jack Tsao, MD

Jack Tsao, MD, DPhil, CAPT, MC, USN is a United States Navy neurologist and the director of Traumatic Brain Injury Programs for the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, professor of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.