Doctors and other scientists continue to push to better understand the human brain. This continuing research is especially important to our nations veterans. Many of them suffer from brain injuries as a result of their military service.
The NPR program Science Friday did a great segment recently on brain injuries in veterans. That program talked about the issues that face veterans as they return from deployments. The audio from the program is embedded below and it is definitely worth a listen. You can also go to the program on the Science Friday website by clicking the link at the beginning of this paragraph.
How PTSD and TBI Affects Our Veterans
Veterans need media attention to make sure their concerns are addressed. Segments like those done by Science Friday keep these issues at the forefront. According to information on VA’s website, somewhere between ten and twenty percent of Vietnam, Gulf War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom veterans will have PTSD in a given year.
For many years, our military did not provide adequate treatment to our veterans with PTSD. In World War I, “shell shock” was largely ignored. Soldiers with shell shock were sometimes shot for cowardice because they lacked moral fiber.
The military has certainly improved how it treats our service members who are exposed to psychological stressors and develop PTSD. Veterans are better evaluated and treated early on after exposure to stressors. But there is still much to learn about PTSD, its development, and its treatment.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Many veterans returning from deployments have also suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Many of these injuries come from exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Department of Defense estimates that approximately 350,000 service members have suffered traumatic brain injuries since 2000.
Much attention has been focused on head injuries to football players and the damage caused by high speed collisions. IEDs expose our service members to blasts much greater than football collisions. We need to focus at least as much attention on our service members as we focus on the health of our football players.
The Importance of Continuing Research On PTSD and TBIs
The brain has been a mystery for many years. Improvements in science help us better understand it. That better understanding leads to better treatments for PTSD and TBI.
We may just be at the earliest stage of understanding these two serious conditions. To ensure that our veterans receive the treatment they deserve, we need to make sure that the study of PTSD and TBI remains at the forefront. This continued attention will ensure that our nation’s top scientists continue to do the research necessary to better understand and better treat these two conditions.