A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a blow to the head or a penetrating head injury disrupts the function of the brain. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild” (a brief change in consciousness) to “severe” (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury).
It should, then, come as no surprise to learn that active-duty and Reserve Service members are at an increased risk for sustaining a TBI compared to civilians. From dangerous operational and training activities to deployment to areas at risk of blast exposures, Service members put their lives – and brains – on the line every day.
The most common form of TBI in the military is a mild injury, or “concussion.”
Help your Service members recognize the signs of a mild TBI (which can be easy to overlook) so they can get the right treatment and stay mission-ready.
Know the Signs of TBI
- Sleep disturbance
- Balance problems
- Visual disturbances
- Sensitivity to light
- Ringing in the ears
- Concentration problems
- Temporary gaps in memory
- Attention problems
- Slowed thinking
- Difficulty finding words
TBI Warning Signs
Although most people recover from a concussion, recovery is different for every person. Symptoms of a mild TBI usually begin to improve within hours and typically resolve within days to weeks. Of course, exceptions exist. If you experience any of the following warning signs after a blow or jolt to the head, seek treatment immediately:
- Worsening headaches
- Worsening balance
- Double vision or other vision changes
- Decreased level of alertness
- Increased disorientation
- Repeated vomiting
- Unusual behavior
- Amnesia/memory problems
TBI Recovery Tips
If you’ve been diagnosed with a concussion, these tips should help you manage the symptoms and lead you on the path to recovery:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Rest during the day.
- Get plenty of sleep at night.
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol.
- Avoid over-the-counter medications unless prescribed by a provider.
- Avoid caffeine and energy drinks.
- Avoid activities (e.g., contact sports) that could lead to another concussion.
If symptoms persist or worsen, see a medical provider.