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Veterans and Brain Injury
Medical systems throughout the U.S., especially Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VA), are seeing an increase in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan.
Shock wave blasts from improvised explosive devices, rocket propelled grenades and land mines are the leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in combat zones. Reports indicate that up to 20 percent of returning veterans exhibit symptoms of having sustained traumatic brain injury.
Estimates point toward as many as 360,000 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) eventually sustaining traumatic brain injury. However, it is not only recently returning vets who are living with brain injury. Many veterans of past conflicts are living with the effects of undiagnosed brain injuries, not realizing that avenues exist for them and their families to find answers.
Most people who sustain a TBI will experience temporary or permanent physical, cognitive, or emotional changes. The VA is helping polytrauma survivors reintegrate into civilian life through a newly created polytrauma system of care. Centered in four Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers (Minneapolis, Palo Alto, Richmond, and Tampa) and spread across the U.S. through specially designated VA hospitals, the system of care addresses patients' complex medical, psychological, and rehabilitation needs, with a special emphasis on brain injury. Specialized services include inpatient and outpatient medical and rehabilitation care, and proactive, long-term case management. Service can also include long-term care for those who cannot return home because of the severity of their injuries.
If you or a loved one is a veteran and has sustained a brain injury and you'd like to learn more about support services, contact the Minneapolis VA Medical Center at 866-414-5058.
The Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance's goal is to provide answers and avenues of support for all Minnesotans living with brain injury. If you are a veteran who has or believes you have a brain injury, or if you are the loved one of a veteran with similar concerns, the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance encourages you to contact us at 800-669-6442 or 612-378-2742.
You are not alone. Many veterans in Minnesota are living with the effects of brain injury. Here are a few of their stories.