Traumatic Brain & Spinal Cord Injury

Among the most severe physical wounds to be sustained and survived by combat veterans, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) and Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs) are usually debilitating, long-term neurological conditions that can severely impact quality of life. Many individuals affected by these injuries become paralyzed or otherwise disabled, meaning that family members and caregivers may also live with the consequences of such an injury for many years. Collected here are resources for veterans and the families of veterans living with one or more of these conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a Traumatic Brain Injury is "caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain." The potential for such an injury exists in civilian life as well as in military service, but the hazardous nature of combat operations leads to a higher incidence of these types of injuries among veterans. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.

Similarly, combat veterans are at greater risk for Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries related to damage sustained to the spinal column or its vertebrae. "Traumatic injury to the spinal cord can result in neurologic impairments in any body system controlled by the affected nerves, including musculoskeletal (resulting in incomplete or complete paraplegia or tetraplegia), respiratory,urinary, or gastrointestinal. Long-term complications from SCI also include any psychological side effects, such as depression and anxiety."