Les White, a nurse practitioner at the West Texas Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Big Spring, TX, has witnessed an increase of veterans seeking assessment and treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI). White works at the polytrauma clinic within the hospital, a specialized treatment and assessment center for TBI and SCI victims. An article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram detailed recent statistics and developments that indicated a rise in the number of SCI and TBI victims in the U.S. armed forces.
The article reported, ‘TBI has been one of the signature injuries of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.’ We have reported on the increasing incidences of TBI and SCI in U.S. soldiers often in the past few months. While treatment gets faster and better and more troops are better able to cope and survive the injuries, the level of soldiers getting injured remains an alarming concern.
An overall increase in technology and treatment options for brain injury victims in the field and in hospitals has led to a much higher chance of survival for soldiers. White commented, ‘You have more people surviving more injuries they could not have survived in the Vietnam conflict or Korean War.’ The Midland Reporter-Telegram article continued, ‘The good news is 95 percent of TBI cases are mild and soldiers usually recover within 12 months.’
However, the numbers of brain injuries occurring in military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan is still enough to give one pause.Â The Big Spring VA hospital is only one of four in the nation who offer veterans free yearly evaluations for brain and spinal cord injuries. ‘White said the clinic saw 85 veterans with spinal cord injuries this year and expects more than 100 in 2010.’
Regardless of preventative measures and high tech treatment options, the rate of SCIs and TBIs shows no sign of declining any time soon, and with more troops being sent to Afghanistan, the numbers will likely stay the same or even rise. At the very least, veterans can be assured of some level of support and treatment upon returning home. White said in the article that injured veterans might also be eligible to receive ‘specially adapted vehicle ramps to their homes or a new bathroom.’
Campbell, Ruth. (January 4, 2010) ‘Big Spring VA seeing more victims of traumatic brain injury.’ Retrieved on January 9, 2010 from the Midland Reporter-Telegram website:http://www.mrt.com/