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Knowing What to Look for Can Aid in Proper Diagnosis & Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006), approximately 1.5 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries every year, 75 percent of which are considered mild. There has been a recent surge in interest concerning mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI's) in the U.S., due in large part to the ongoing involvement of American troops in the Middle East. As many as 18% of the 1.5 million American soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past eight years have suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury, reports the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The trauma that our military personnel continue to endure has propelled our need to better appreciate and adequately treat the dynamics of traumatic brain injury," says Douglas J. Mason, Psy.D, a neuropsychologist who specializes in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of people with brain injuries. In his book, The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Workbook (New Harbinger Publications, 2004), Mason explains that often the biggest hurdle to treating mild traumatic brain injuries is getting the diagnoses. MTBI's are frequently hard to diagnose because of the individualized nature of the injury, and the fact that symptoms vary from impairments in fine motor speed and coordination to changes in abilities to engage in hobbies and leisure activities.

Symptoms include. . .

  • Emotional: depression, anxiety, hopelessness, apathy, irritability and emotional numbness
  • Behavioral: impatience, anger, frustration, impulsivity, and withdrawal
  • Physical: headaches, fatigue, numbness, sensory changes (touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing), vertigo, nausea, and impairments in fine motor speed and coordination
  • Cognitive: confusion, disorientation, alterations in judgment, and increased distractibility
  • Social: changes in abilities to engage in hobbies and leisure activities, isolation, and increased alienation from others

Diagnosis and treatment are vital for those suffering from the effects of a mild traumatic brain injury. According to Mason, "The effects of head trauma are treatable and the brain can heal when given the appropriate treatment."

Source: The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Workbook: Your Program for Regaining Cognitive Function and Overcoming Emotional Pain (New Harbinger Publications)

SOURCE New Harbinger Publications
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