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Friday, March 09, 2007

Bob Woodruff Continues Reporting on TBI, USA Today Reveals Memo Citing DoD Unpreparedness

Following issues concerning traumatic brain injury, or TBI, on a post-traumatic stress disorder-focused journal is especially important as research has shown there is an increased risk for PTSD for those who suffer from TBI.

This week, USA Today reports on a DoD memo revealing that the Pentagon is still not screening all troops subjected to bomb blasts and IED attacks for TBI, still not tackling the problem with a comprehensive program to diagnose and treat the injury. Meanwhile, Bob Woodruff files another heartbreaking look at one family's struggle with the malady on last night's ABC World News:

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

I'm including a good portion of Gregg Zoroya's important USA Today article for educational purposes. From USA Today:

The Pentagon lacks a comprehensive plan to identify and treat tens of thousands of troops who may suffer from traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the Iraq war, according to a previously undisclosed Defense Department memorandum obtained by USA TODAY. The memo was released this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Troops with mild and moderate brain injury are of greatest concern, the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board, now part of a new Defense Health Board, said in the Aug. 11 memo. ...

The memo said the Pentagon should take the lead in "tackling the issue of TBI (traumatic brain injury) given our current wartime challenges." It was signed by Wayne Lednar, an epidemiologist, and Gregory Poland, chief of the Defense Health Board. "There remains a need to better understand the unique characteristics of blast-associated TBI and to reduce the health risk and complications from mild or moderate forms of brain injury," the memo said. Lednar and Poland did not return calls for comment. ...

The Pentagon's best work on TBI was on the most severe cases, the memo said. It noted that mild cases are hard to spot and can limit mental performance. Multiple concussions, the report said, can cause permanent damage. Among the panel's recommendations: improved protective gear, standardized battlefield methods to spot brain injuries, better ways to determine when a injured soldier can return to duty and screening all returning troops for brain injury.

In response, the Pentagon said Wednesday it is spending $14 million for more research on blast injuries and giving medics in combat zones evaluation forms to diagnose mild brain injury. "Our goal is to identify TBI as soon as possible," said Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., an advocate of improved brain injury treatment, called the panel's finding "outrageous." She added, "Four years into the war and we still don't have a systemwide plan." Without a comprehensive approach, it is left to family members to notice something mentally wrong with a loved one back from combat, says Janice Ruoff, a brain injury expert at George Washington University.

Thank you, Gregg Zoroya and Bob Woodruff for your continued reporting on this important issue.

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