Navigating the System
A Guide for People with Traumatic Brain Injury and Their Families

I got a brain injury during my deployment. What do I need to know?

Sep 25, 2013, 10:26 AM
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(Our thanks to Staff Sergeant Bell and for providing valuable information for this section.)

Some surprising things about concussion or mild brain injury:
  • You don’t have to lose consciousness or black out to have a brain injury.
  • You may not be aware of the changes in your thinking and behavior after brain injury.
  • Other people around you (family and co-workers especially) may notice the symptoms you are having before you do. It’s important to listen to their feedback and respect their suggestions that you get professional assessment and treatment.
Some symptoms that SSGT Bell experienced:
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty organizing and communicating his thoughts (“putting things together”)
  • Problems deciding what to do
  • Daily migraines
  • Balance problems
  • Light sensitivity
See the brochure “Are You Worried About Your Head or Brain?” for more information about symptoms and connections to resources.

In combat injury, wounded warriors often experience more than one condition. These conditions may have overlapping symptoms. For example, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) have several of the same symptoms.

Some of the behavior patterns and emotional reactions of PTSD and/or TBI may have started as survival strategies during combat. Now is it important to learn how to be aware of those reactions and choose appropriate responses to the situations you are in now.

SSGT Bell benefitted from several therapies:
  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Balance Therapy
  • Psychological Counseling
He also found using a PDA helpful for remembering when and where he wants to be. With the improvements in smart phones, many of the functions of PDAs are now available on your phone. For example: a calendar with ring-tone alerts to remind you BEFORE an appointment, electronic notepad for writing down things you want to remember, contact lists with places to add important information about the people in your list.

SSGT Bell gives some good advice:
  • Don’t give up.
  • Stay calm.
  • Work past your frustrations. 
  • Recovery is tough, but you can get better than you are now.
Brain Injury Alliance
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