Together with individuals and agencies across New York State, the Brain Injury Association of NYS is working to build awareness about combat-related traumatic brain injury and its impact on our returning military, as well as to former members of the military.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you were exposed to a blast, were in a vehicle crash, or had your head hit or jolted while you were deployed, you might have a brain injury. Many troops may not know that they have an injury or that treatment is available, and it may be months before symptoms of a brain injury begin to appear
How We Can Help
The Brain Injury Association of New York State has worked to meet the needs of individuals with brain injury and their families since 1982. In addition to a brochure and booklet specifically directed to military personnel and their families, an extensive array of information about Brain Injury, rehabilitation resources, services, support groups, and training are available to all, free-of-charge.
The Association recently collaborated with the New York State Department of Health to raise awareness about TBI in the military, providing training and outreach, and producing two documentary films on this topic. In Beyond the Invisible, three veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom share their experiences of living with a traumatic brain injury. The follow-up film, Coming Home, focuses on service members and their families as they navigate the world of brain injury.
If you or a family member was injured while in military service and you have questions about brain injury, please contact the Brain Injury Association of New York State at 1-800-444-6443.
Blast Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury
A TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Exposure to blast events can affect the body in a number of ways; in addition, these different injury mechanisms can interact and result in more impairments or prolonged periods of recovery.
Blast injury can result from exposure to the over-pressurization wave or the complex pressure wave that is generated by the blast itself. TBI resulting from blast exposure can be much more complex compared to TBI from other causes. Blasts also cause TBI via propelled fragments (shrapnel), hitting against stationary objects with force, significant blood loss, and/or through inhalation of toxic gases.
Difficulties experienced as a result of a closed brain blast injury may include a range of physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. Many of these symptoms also occur with other conditions such as depression or combat stress. It requires an experienced clinician familiar with the many variables involved in brain injury, to properly diagnose and treat these injuries.
TBI and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur as the result of exposure to events that involve actual or threatened death, intense fear, extreme stress or violence, or feeling helpless. You may have been exposed to these events daily. There are similarities and differences between PTSD and TBI.
Common symptoms of PTSD include irritability, depression, sleep problems, feeling jumpy, difficulty concentrating, inability to recall details of the trauma, reliving the trauma, avoiding close contact with family or friends, flashbacks, and feeling detached or disconnected from emotions.
These symptoms could also be indicative of a TBI. It is not unusual for people to experience both diagnoses. The differences are often subtle. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to a professional who can help you understand what is happening.
Resources for Veterans
- New York State Department of Health
- Veterans’ Health Information Clearing House
- New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs 1-888-VETS-NYS (1-888-838-7697)
- New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs 1-518-786-4500
Veterans’ Administration Links for New York State Military
- Defense Centers of Excellence – For Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Benefits Service Center – 1-877-222-VETS (1-888-222-8387)
- Brain Injury Association of America – 703-761-0750
- Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center – 202-782-6345 or 800-870-9244
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America – 212-982-9699