DCoE Blog

  • Seek Help Early for Substance Abuse Following TBI

    Read the full story: Seek Help Early for Substance Abuse Following TBI
    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarvie Z. Wallace

    Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and substance use disorder share many symptoms, and one condition may often complicate the other. Experts from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) discussed the problems service members can face when the two conditions intersect during a webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Research shows that substance misuse is responsible for 37-50 percent of all TBIs. The majority of individuals who experience a TBI have a history of substance misuse, which often continues after the injury. In addition, a TBI itself can lead to substance misuse, said Lars Hungerford, a senior clinical research director for DVBIC.

    “TBI is actually a risk factor for binge drinking, even after controlling for PTSD and demographic factors,” Hungerford said.

    Substance misuse, particularly alcohol use, can complicate TBI in several ways:

    • Increased likelihood of another TBI. That’s because substance misuse can impair balance, coordination and judgment.
    • Lowered seizure threshold. TBI may increase the risk of seizure from drinking, and alcohol can impede anti-seizure medications.
    • Delayed or halted brain recovery. Alcohol can cause inflammation of the brain, which inhibits its ability to heal.
  • Snowboarders, Skiers Need to Protect Their Heads Too

    Read the full story: Snowboarders, Skiers Need to Protect Their Heads Too
    U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour

    Did you wear a helmet the last time you went skiing or snowboarding? If you said no, it’s time to change the way you think about winter sports safety. Dr. Scott Livingston, director of education for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, said that people need to wear helmets for these types of activities.

    “There is definitely ample research that shows that wearing helmets reduces head injury risk,” he said.

    Helmets don’t always prevent concussion, but they do reduce concussion risk and they are highly effective in preventing catastrophic brain injury, Livingston said, citing a book about preventing concussion by Dr. William P. Meehan III, director of the The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention at Boston Children’s Hospital.

  • Seeing Double? Brain Injury Could Be Cause

    Read the full story: Seeing Double? Brain Injury Could Be Cause
    U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel

    Vision problems are common symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Sometimes, they can have a major impact on your quality of life. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of people with TBI have vision issues that may affect their professional and academic performance.

    Car accidents, blunt force trauma and other possible traumatic events may lead to swelling in the brain. This can cause problems with vision or eye coordination. Visual problems after a TBI often affect eye coordination and can be difficult to diagnose, especially when there is no loss of clear vision or other outward sign of injury.

  • Things You Need to Know About Depression

    Read the full story: Things You Need to Know About Depression

    Although people use the words depressed or depression to refer to a sad mood, it is much more than just a bad day. Depression is a complicated condition with many aspects.

    According to the National Institute for Mental Health, depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working. Misunderstandings about depression can hinder proper identification and treatment. Additionally, the signs and effects of depression can differ from person to person. The Deployment Health Clinical Center outlines six key aspects of depression:

  • Lessons Learned in Sports Concussion Management

    Read the full story: Lessons Learned in Sports Concussion Management
    U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Ellis

    Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) experts discussed how best practices in sports concussion management benefit military medicine during a recent webinar. Just as athletic trainers and civilian sports medicine doctors decide when athletes are ready to get back in the game, military health care providers must assess when a service member can return to duty.

    Concussions make up more than 82 percent of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the military. The majority of these injuries happen in non-combat settings. Falls cause approximately 32 percent of concussions, and car accidents, assaults and impacts with objects (combined) account for the other 64 percent. These are similar to the same categories of injury mechanisms as sports-related concussions.

    However, concussions caused by blast exposure are also common in the military, said Dr. Scott Livingston, DVBIC education division director.

  • 10 Tips to Keep Resolutions on Track

    Read the full story: 10 Tips to Keep Resolutions on Track
    U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone

    The new year is a great time for making positive changes, which is why people often set resolutions. Your state of mind is important for sticking to resolutions, and dedicating time and energy to improving mental health can help. The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) has resources for anyone who wants to develop a healthy mental outlook or has resolved to improve their wellness.

    Below are tools that can help you make positive changes and stick to your resolutions. You may even want to consider adding some of the recommendations below to your existing resolutions.

    • Schedule visits with a health care provider. Your health care provider is a good place to start your year. Routine physicals are essential in maintaining your optimal health.

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