Concussions Major Military Health Problem

Washington Report

(December 19, 2017) Head injuries present a problem across the medical community, including the military, where they can affect the force’s readiness, health experts told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

Since 2000, more than 370,000 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. More than 80 percent were considered mild, Military Times reported. Most of them do not occur in combat, but are the result of training incidents or vehicle crashes.

The hearing pointed out the difficulty in diagnosing and treating mild TBI despite the evidence collected throughout the medical community from sports injuries, workplace accidents and the like.

“Among, civilians, nearly 4 million concussions occur each year,” said Dr. David Dodick, the program director for the concussion program at Mayo Clinic. “It can lead to permanent symptoms in some and permanent damage or disease in others. And yet, it remains significantly underdiagnosed.”

Navy Capt. Mike Colston, the director of military-health affairs, said, “Concussions, which often lack obvious visible injury, have potential to impact the readiness of the force. That is why the department continues to emphasize and focus on advances in concussion diagnostic testing and evaluation, treatment and research.”

The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs have increased programs to identify mild concussions, just as the civilian health field has done.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said, “If the military figures this out, then the rest of us can figure it out, too.”