Investigative Journalism into Combat Traumatic Brain Injuries

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Daniel Zwerdling {link takes you to a page of his reports}, of NPR, has been doing stellar investigative reporting on PTSD and TBI, now for a number of years, as the two occupations we’re engaged in continued on. It took the media a few years to finally grasp what was already known as to the results of War on the soldiers we send. Even with the some four decades of many of us Vietnam Veterans, as well as other Veterans, and the Civilians who recognized those results and have been speaking out about. Like everything else the public either ignored or certainly didn’t want to hear. We didn’t have the present day technology and sadly it’s taking two more long occupations for the realities to finally speak of what happens and reach more and more people who now can’t ignore. The media to finally started reporting on the results of war, not recognized before, as well as the understanding that same happens within the civilian populations, wars are not the only cause. Traumatic Brain Injuries have been known about and treated in the public but even those are being looked at and re-studied, as there is much more now known in needing to understand and bring new treatments for or advance the treatments used.

This was on the NPR Morning Edition on 8 June 2010 and is only a snippet of the report to come later that day and the next on the NPR show All Things Considered

Reports: Military Fails To Diagnose Brain Injuries

June 8, 2010 The military’s medical system is failing to diagnose brain injuries in troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling and T. Christian Miller, of the nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica, talk to Steve Inskeep about a new series of investigative reports. They looked into the military’s system of caring for soldiers, who suffer from traumatic brain injury.

The report over at ProPublica, the site has a host of related links along with the written report.

Brain Injuries Remain Undiagnosed in Thousands of Soldiers

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR – June 7, 2010

The military medical system is failing to diagnose brain injuries in troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom receive little or no treatment for lingering health problems, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR has found.

So-called mild traumatic brain injury has been called one of the wars’ signature wounds. Shock waves from roadside bombs can ripple through soldiers’ brains, causing damage that sometimes leaves no visible scars but may cause lasting mental and physical harm.

Officially, military figures say about 115,000 troops have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries since the wars began. But top Army officials acknowledged in interviews that those statistics likely understate the true toll. Tens of thousands of troops with such wounds have gone uncounted, according to unpublished military research obtained by ProPublica and NPR.


Among our findings:

   * From the battlefield to the home front, the military’s doctors and screening systems routinely miss brain trauma in soldiers. One of its tests fails to catch as many as 40 percent of concussions, a recent unpublished study concluded. A second exam, on which the Pentagon has spent millions, yields results that top medical officials call about as reliable as a coin flip.

   * Even when military doctors diagnose head injuries, that information often doesn’t make it into soldiers’ permanent medical files. Handheld medical devices designed to transmit data have failed in the austere terrain of the war zones. Paper records from Iraq and Afghanistan have been lost, burned or abandoned in warehouses, officials say, when no one knew where to ship them.

   * Without diagnosis and official documentation, soldiers with head wounds have had to battle for appropriate treatment. Some received psychotropic drugs instead of rehabilitative therapy that could help retrain their brains. Others say they have received no treatment at all, or have been branded as malingerers. Continued

Listen for the two reports or visit the NPR or ProPublica report links above to stream after airing.


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  1. Medal of Honor Recipients Promote Mental-Health Support

    June 7, 2010 – Twenty-eight Medal of Honor recipients recently launched the “Medal of Honor – Speak Out” campaign to encourage troops struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other health problems to take advantage of services to help them.

    The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients dating back to World War II echo a common theme in video messages for today’s returning combat veterans: Take advantage of the resources now available to treat the unseen scars of war.

    “Make use of them,” they encourage today’s troops. “Stay strong, and don’t let the enemy defeat you at home.”

    The Medal of Honor recipients, many who have endured harrowing wartime experiences, acknowledge in individual videos the emotional challenges many returning combat veterans experience. Continued

  2. On All Things Considered 8 June 2010.

    Military Still Failing To Diagnose, Treat Brain Injuries

    T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling

    Part 2 to air tomorrow, 9 June 2010, on same NPR show.

  3. IMHO it’s useful to distinguish between other forms of “mild traumatic brain injuries” and blast-induced brain injuries, in which the damage and prognosis are significantly different from all other injuries to the human brain, as I explained in my blog about Blast-Induced Brain Injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan right here on Docudharma May 26.  

  4. Defense unable to track deployed troops’ use of psychiatric drugs

    June 8 2010 The Defense Department’s Military Health System cannot track the use of prescription medications, especially psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants, and antipsychotic drugs used by troops engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a report released by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Monday.

    At a hearing in March, members of the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee described widespread use of prescription drugs throughout the services and by deployed troops.

    Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., estimated that one out of six service members is taking some form of psychiatric drug. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., said internal Army studies showed that 12 percent of its troops in Iraq and 17 percent in Afghanistan have been prescribed either antidepressants or sleeping pills. Continued

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