VA Begins Raising Awareness, Care of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The Veterans Administration is increasing awareness, care of TBIs.

VA hospitals and centers across the nation are implementing new polytrauma rehabilitation centers for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs). One veteran shares his story of recovery at the Veterans Affairs Polytrauma Rehabilitaion Center in Richmond, Va., in a new documentary.

When doctors told Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ricard he would walk again, he thought they were crazy. He sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Afghanistan from an improvised explosive device. He couldn’t move; he had nightmares and trouble communicating. Yet after seven months of rehabilitation, Ricard headed home, one step at a time.
 
“I feel like everybody at the VA had a place … and they were all at the right place at the right time,” said Ricard. “They all knew their job and they all knew what they had to do … they are the ones that kept me going, especially when I begged them to quit. They wouldn’t let me.”
 
To increase awareness and understanding of TBI, the VA website has been updated with sections providing signs and symptoms, to help individuals understand their diagnosis or to encourage those with possible injuries to seek assessment. In fact, some individuals manifest no outward physical symptoms beyond fatigue, forgetfulness, or other behavioral changes that could be attributed to life after combat.
 
“In recognizing the complexity of TBI, VA has taken the lead on developing a closely integrated polytrauma system of care,” said Dr. Jay Uomoto, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), deputy director for veterans affairs. “This website is a one-stop TBI resource, creating a network of support to educate, connect and most importantly, help those who sustained TBI and their families get the help they need.”
 

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