Dr. James Kelly: The Military's Preventative Steps Regarding Brain Injury

Screening all service members who've had a risk of a concussion is a big step forward.

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I think this latest opportunity to screen everybody in the military who's had a risk of concussion is a big forward step. It's not just a matter of now waiting for somebody to identify themselves as having a symptom that they're bringing to the health care provider. I think that the military will teach us about who does and does not have a concussion, after such an event as a bomb blast or a big car crash, that we don't have an opportunity in the civilian world to look at. Part of it also has to do with long-term follow-up. The military also has a reach for many years into the health care of these individuals. And so, for instance, the new National Intrepid Center of Excellence will have its own database to follow, for many years, the individuals that come through with the combined history of traumatic brain injury and PTSD, let's say, or some other psychological concern. We don't even have that in any other setting right now. The military is in a position to be able to learn about what is the natural course of things-- recovery and decline--from these problems, What interventions help, what don't; and inform the civilian society as a result of those new opportunities that are unique to the military. Other than that, in the future, what we've already seen is identifying concussion earlier-- clearly earlier--offers an opportunity to intervene earlier. Now some of that was known from civilian literature, but now we have an opportunity to make that really stick and help people. Some of that's been done in theater. Some of it, I think, has informed us that the earlier we get to individuals who have concussive symptoms, the better their recovery, the quicker they return to their jobs and so forth in the military. And I think that that's really underscored the need for early identification and treatment.
Posted on BrainLine October 20, 2010.

Produced by Noel Gunther and Brian King, BrainLine.