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Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Service Members and Veterans
Traumatic Brain Injuries Cause Significant Impairment To A Person's Mental, Physical, And Emotional Health During Military Service And Beyond.
A traumatic brain injury results from a blow or bump to the head, a severe jolt in your body, or due to something penetrating your skull. The trauma itself doesn’t just break your skull’s bones but also affects how your brain functions.
The most common causes of TBIs include gunshot wounds, vehicle crashes, assaults, and falls.
The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can include, but may not be limited to, the following:
• Nerve Damage.
• Blood Clots.
• Difficulty Learning.
• Difficulty Remembering Past Events.
• Difficulty Making Decisions.
• Double Vision.
• Ear Ringing.
• Difficulty Talking, Reading, Writing, or Explaining Things to Others.
• Lack of Self-Control.
• Mood Swings.
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The Three Different Levels of Traumatic Brain Injuries
A concussion is different from a traumatic brain injury because doctors classify them based on three distinct levels of severity.
What are the Symptoms of a Mild TBI?
The symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may look like the following:
• No loss of consciousness, or a brief loss that lasts seconds/minutes.
• Post-traumatic amnesia lasts for less than 60 minutes after the injury occurs.
• Brain imaging scan results appear normal.
What are the Symptoms of a ModerateTBI?
A moderate traumatic brain injury has similar but vastly different indicators – doctors would still look for the sign like the loss of consciousness and post-traumatic amnesia, however, the patient in question would be experiencing those for much closer to 24 hours, if not longer.
A brain imaging scan would also be done, as with a mild traumatic brain injury, however, clear abnormalities would show, leading doctors to make a different diagnosis.
What are the Symptoms of a Severe TBI?
A severe traumatic brain injury has much worse ramifications:
• Patient loses consciousness for more than 24 hours and goes into a coma.
• Post-traumatic amnesia lasts for more than 24 hours after the traumatic brain injury.
• Brain imaging scan shows permanent damage to brain tissue.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Military Service
Service members typically experience TBI’s during training and while they’re in combat and are amongst the groups considered most at risk for these injuries with long-term mental or physical health effects.
Not to mention, they’re also considered at risk for death and suicide because of TBI’s as well.
A study found that 4,000 more 9/11 Veterans had died in the past 20 years than were once previously anticipated and those numbers were the highest amongst Veterans who had traumatic brain injuries.
Veterans with a diagnosis of a mild, moderate, or a severe TBI in a medical record should be aware that those labels are not a standard the VA uses to determine a disability rating.
According to the Schedule of Ratings, a mild, moderate, or severe TBI is diagnosed “at, or close to, the time of the injury, rather than to the current level of functioning.”
Veterans with TBI’s experience various levels of disabilities, and some may not even be able to maintain gainful employment after their injury takes place.
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While it can take six months or more for a Veteran to receive a decision on his or her initial benefits claim from the Department of Veterans Affairs, appeals could take 2 years of more. The Department of Veterans Affairs lacks the funding to properly staff and process benefits applications. The number of applications from recently returning Veterans must be dealt with while the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to actively work towards providing services to prior generations of Veterans.
How Do I Increase My Disability Rating?
Great question! If the condition that you are actively receiving disability benefits for has now ultimately worsened over time, you can file an increased rating claim. It’s fairly simple, and it involves filing out an online claim form or mailing a letter to your regional office documenting the change in your condition.
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