A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the result of a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. It may knock you out briefly or for an extended period, or make you feel confused or see stars, also known as an alteration of consciousness. However, not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI.
Categories for TBI are mild, moderate, severe or penetrating. The most common form of TBI in the military is mild, commonly known as a concussion. Some common symptoms following a concussion include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Vision changes
- Balance changes
- Fatigue, attention and memory problems
- Mood changes
For most concussion cases, patients can expect a full recovery with symptoms resolving within a few hours to a few weeks.
TBI is a significant health issue that affects service members and veterans. The high rate of TBI and blast-related concussion events resulting from recent combat operations directly affects the health and safety of individual service members and subsequently the level of unit readiness and troop retention. However, the vast majority of service members and veterans experience a TBI in a non-deployed setting, due to the nature of their training or participation in sports and leisure activities. More than 80 percent of TBIs are diagnosed in a non-deployed setting.
Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) provides worldwide numbers (updated quarterly on its website) representing active-duty medical diagnoses of TBI that occurred anywhere U.S. forces are located, listed in total and identified by service and injury severity since 2000.