JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Each March, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson participates in Brain Injury Awareness Month by conducting an awareness campaign aimed at educating service members, families, retirees and civilian employees about the needs of people with traumatic brain injury.
From 2000 through the third quarter of 2017, the Department of Defense has reported more than 375,000 cases of service members suffering TBI’s.
The JBER traumatic brain injury clinic treats more than 1,500 patients annually– about 20 new patients each month.
At times it can be difficult to determine whether some service members and veterans need help–for several reasons. For instance, while on deployment, service members may deny symptoms of physical injury to continue supporting their mission. Others might be accustomed to their daily routine and not recognize they need assistance until they return home.
“It’s not just on-duty service members who suffer from TBI,” said Patricia Raymond Turner, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center regional education coordinator. “Concussions in young children and older adults occur most frequently from falls. Leisure time and sporting activities can also be leading causes for a TBI when accidents happen. Gaining knowledge on how to prevent these types of injuries can save your life as well as potentially the relationships around you.”
TBI may cause physical, cognitive and behavioral changes that can be difficult to adapt to for both the individual and family members. These changes are usually temporary, but in some cases recovery becomes a lifelong process of adjustments and accommodations.
“People with TBI can lead joyful and meaningful lives with the aid of friends and loved ones who can provide support and encouragement,” Raymond Turner said. “Research has found a direct relationship between a family’s ability to adapt and cope with trauma and a patient’s success with rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Most people who have sustained a TBI recover significantly in the first few months following injury. In fact, more than 85 percent of people with a concussion, also known as a mild TBI, recover completely within weeks to months, with minimal intervention.
“At the JBER TBI clinic, the patient is our mission,” Turner said. “Our patients’ physical, psychological, occupational and social well-being is our highest priority.”
The JBER hospital TBI clinic offers traditional medical therapies such as medication management, occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychotherapy. Standard treatments are complemented in many cases with acupuncture, music therapy, massage chairs and educational consultation for a holistic approach.
“Our hope is for people who might be experiencing symptoms of TBI be reached through our efforts and activities planned throughout the community,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Herman, TBI clinic noncommissioned officer in charge. “We hope these forums will highlight the resources available, ultimately leading to an increased willingness to seek help.”
If you or someone you know experiences a knock to the head and suffers from symptoms right away that you think might be related to a concussion, the TBI clinic staff suggests going to the emergency room.
If a knock to the head happened in the past and symptoms are currently present, go to a family health provider or primary care manager who can make a referral to the TBI clinic or start a plan of care or make a referral to the TBI clinic if needed.
Information tables will be displayed throughout March in the main entrances of the JBER hospital, Soldier Medical Home troop clinic and JBER Library.
For more information on TBI visit:
http://dvbic.dcoe.mil/ or https://www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury/ or contact the JBER hospital TBI clinic at 580-0014.