A new traumatic brain injury protocol is coming soon from the Pentagon to provide early detection and treatment for combat veterans. The military says it is switching from a symptom-based approach to an incident-based approach in theater. And under the new protocols, soldiers who have been involved in incidents such as being close to explosions or blasts must be checked out by medical staff on a mandatory basis.
To roll out the incident-based protocols, the American Forces Press Service reports, Defense Department officials will follow an “educate, train, track and treat” sequence:
Ensuring awareness at all levels in recognizing symptoms brain injuries;
Training health care providers in evidence-based treatments;
Treating incidents early; and
Tracking progress to yield metrics that would show where improvements are needed.
“Our real message to send out to everyone is, ‘Protect your greatest weapon — your brain,’” said Kathy Helmick, interim senior executive director for traumatic brain injury and director of TBI clinical standards of care at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. “The cornerstone is early detection and early treatment, and that these are recoverable injuries.”
DOD officials will also be sharing information with the National Football League about traumatic brain injury research, including prevention and treatment. “So the groups are working on creating a change in attitude so that servicemembers, like athletes, don’t discount symptoms but get early treatment, which will lead to early recovery,” Helmick added.