Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Traumatic Brain Injuries or PTSD?

[image: an upgraded Personal Armor System for Ground Troops helmet with Operation Helmet-supplied kit--cost is $87 for old models, $56 for newer ones.]

I think Blue Girl might have more to say about this, but here's what we know so far:

A new military study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine says soldiers who suffered concussions in Iraq were not only at higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, but also that the depression and PTSD, not the head injuries, may be the cause of ongoing physical symptoms.

Five percent of the 2,500 soldiers surveyed by Walter Reed Army Institute of Research said they had concussions in which they lost consciousness during combat. Forty-four percent of these soldiers ended up with PTSD.

Researchers were surprised to find symptoms normally associated with concussions -- headaches, dizziness, irritability and memory problems -- were actually related to PTSD or depression.

"It isn't the combat exposure or physical injury, it's the PTSD that seems to drive these symptoms. That's a surprise," said Joseph A. Boscarino, Ph.D., who studies PTSD at the Geisinger Center for Health Research in Danville, Pennsylvania. "You would expect they would have these other symptoms related to traumatic brain injury, that maybe they have a permanent injury, but it's explained by whether they have PTSD or depression."

About 8 million American adults have PTSD. A 2003 New England Journal of Medicine Study found that 15 percent to 17 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were suffering from PTSD, and more than 60 percent of those showing symptoms were unlikely to seek help because of fears of stigmatization or loss of career advancement opportunities.

As of June 30, 2007, the Department of Defense reported 3,294 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs. Bomb blasts caused nearly 70 percent of those TBI cases.

Dr. James Kelly, a neurology professor at the University of Colorado and a co-author of guidelines the military uses to identify traumatic brain injury, expressed concerns that doctors will attribute lingering health problems to psychological issues.

"I think if people misunderstand or overextend beyond what this survey shows, they could dismiss true brain injury features as psychological only," Kelly said. "It would be a terrible disservice to our military for that to happen."

Kahlor is worried this study will make it harder for soldiers to get appropriate medical care.

"The military doesn't want to diagnose people with brain injury," he said. "So what they'll do is play it off as PTSD as the sole injury for everyone, because PTSD and traumatic brain injury have very similar symptoms," he said. "The disability [compensation] is a lot higher for traumatic brain injury. What the military is saying is, you can't be diagnosed from a brain injury unless you get better from PTSD. It's kind of like a paradox."

First of all, citing a study from 2003 is WAY out of date. The larger IEDs used against our troops are causing a more severe type of brain injury, obviously. The different vehicles being used, such as the MRV and the Stryker, are helping, but is it enough. And then there was the campaign called Operation Helmet. Here's something from their site, which you could visit and support if you choose to:

Jan 21, 2008: Received a request from a Marine Reserve unit (155 Marines) headed back into combat...and unable to use the 'GI' pads at all, so have reverted to the un-protected form of combat helmet. We MUST NOT let this happen. While we're pressuring Congress and the military to do what's right, we need an urgent fund-raising campaign to outfit these troops before they reach their combat assignment. PLEASE HELP WITH YOUR DONATIONS IF YOU CAN.

Which outrage do you want--that a Marine reserve unit is going into Iraq in 2008--nearly five years since the start of the goddamned war--WITHOUT adequate headgear? Our military health care system finding a way to get rid of people and not pay benefits??? Now, why would the military do something like that?

Remember when the military started going after people who had "personality disorders" that were really manifestations of PTSD? How could you blame them? It was a fantastic way of getting rid of people and cutting costs!

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town's wounds were actually caused by a "personality disorder." Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits. The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans' rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals.

They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers like Town and that it's doing so for one reason: to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses

Here's the original link to WWTC [where Blue Girl spends some of her valuable time] Your government. Acting like a craven HMO. You gotta love it when they pull this kind of thing. All that stands between them and their goals is exposing their attempts at shortchanging Veterans.

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