Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans – More Research Needed

  • Combat is the ultimate contact sport.
  • Since 9/11, it is estimated that over 300,000 soldiers have returned from their deployment with concussions.
  • The short- and long-term outlook for most people with TBIs is brighter than what some have come to believe.

CTE in veterans shows the military has it’s own “concussion crisis” and is not limited to the NFL. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a dangerous neurodegenerative disease linked with repeated concussions or brain trauma. It causes severe depression, memory loss, behavioral issues, and problems with extreme anger.

Obviously, you’ve heard of it being found in an increasing number of former football players and other athletes who engage in “contact sports.” I submit that combat is the ultimate contact sport.  CTE has become almost exclusively linked to football, though it has been found in athletes in sports such as hockey and soccer. However, athletes aren’t the only ones being affected by the permanent brain disease.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. Symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. Symptoms typically do not begin until years after the injuries. CTE often gets worse over time and can result in dementia. It is unclear if the risk of suicide is altered.

Unfortunately, CTE is found in a number of brains from former members of the military. Since 9/11, it is estimated that over 300,000 soldiers have returned from their deployment with concussions. Through post-mortem autopsies, we have discovered many of these veterans may also have developed CTE from their trauma. A CBS 60 Minutes exposé revealed that the military has it’s own CTE Crisis it will have to face.

An article by a group of VA brain-injury experts strikes a cautionary tone—but also a note of optimism—regarding the long-term brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The authors say scientific questions still abound as to what exactly CTE is—and whether it is in fact a “neuropsychiatric entity” in its own right. They suggest public anxiety over the condition has run ahead of the science, which they say is still in its infancy. And perhaps most important for veterans and others who have incurred traumatic brain injuries, especially “single, uncomplicated, mild” ones, they emphasize that the short- and long-term outlook for most people with TBIs is brighter than what some have come to believe.

We shall see.

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Dana Matthews

Dr Dana Matthews is a Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Ranger (Retired). He holds a BA in Journalism, an MBA/JD Law Degree, and a Doctorate in Organizational Psychology.

He is a Member of the National Press Club in Washington DC and has appeared on TV and Radio.

He was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart for Combat Wounded Veterans.

Dr Dana Matthews is a well published Journalist and writer with articles appearing in the Scripps Newspaper/ TCPALM.COM

He also co authored and published a novel entitled " El Segundo- One Man's Journey for Redemption". 


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