Traumatic Brain Injuries have been diagnosed in more than 450,000 service members between the years 2000 and 2021.  These “invisible wounds” can cause physical, mental and emotional damage. A recent short film titled “Brainstorms” shows the impacts that these wounds can have upon the victims and their families.

Two medical professionals join us to discuss this issue. Dr. Chrisanne Gordon is founder of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation and Dr. Josh Appel is Chief of Emergency Medicine at the Southern Arizona VA and a former Air Force Pararescueman.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

The typical IED can cause damage to persons even as far away as three football fields. TBI’s also have a cumulative effect. Dr. Gordon says of the patients she interacts with, the average number of TBI’s is eight.

Traumatic brain injuries do not show up on a normal MRI and both doctors agree that they are significantly under diagnosed. Common symptoms include headaches, photophobia (light sensitivity) and audio sensitivity. Dr. Gordon explained that when one part of the brain goes down, other parts try to step up causing lack of balance. This is why some Veterans are hyper sensitive to sound, large crowds and short tempered.

We also discuss recent developments that have complicated the situation. The pandemic caused many Veterans to become even more isolated and civil unrest added pressures to Veterans who fought for a unified nation. Dr. Appel adds that the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan left many Veterans wondering if it was worthwhile. “For me it was like watching the Twin Towers fall all over again.”

Traumatic Brain Injuries are fixable but we need to do a better job of diagnosing them early. Dr. Gordon recommends that whatever part of your brain is working, overwork that part and it will begin to pull the section that is damaged back.

TAKEAWAY: “The consequences of a malfunctioning brain are greater than the consequences of a malfunctioning arm.”

Veterans Crisis Line – Dial 988 and Press 1, Text to 838255