Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Sunday, September 03, 2006

VA Issues: IRAQ WAR VETS BATTLE WAR'S SIGNATURE WOUND: BRAIN INJURIES



"It's really hard to let go of the person you were before."

And now D.O.D. is cutting funding to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Is there no shame?

Is the no sense of responsibility?

The most seriously wounded will be getting less for treatment and research.

Mercury News
via: VA Watchdog
By: Jordan Robertson (AP)

PALO ALTO, Calif---Lance Cpl. Sam Reyes survived three horrific attacks in Iraq. An insurgent shot him in the chest with a machine gun. He took a shotgun wound to the back during an ambush. And a suicide bomber blew apart a lightly armoured 18-wheeler Reyes was riding in, killing 12 of his fellow Marines and leaving him with severe burns and broken ribs.

But Reyes' lasting injury is one that cannot be seen, and it continues to cripple him long after he arrived home with a clean bill of health.

***Maybe if Reyes' vehicle wasn't so "lightly" armoured, he wouldn't be like he is and 12 Marines might still be alive! If Bush wants our troops to fight a war for him, something that he was too afraid to do himself, then he should sent our troops into battle with the right equipment to do so!

He suffered an undetected traumatic brain injury when the explosion sent a powerful shock wave through his brain tissue, bursting blood vessels and smacking his brain against the inside of his skull.

"I thought I was a mess-up, just damn near dumb," Reyes, 22, said about the mysterious fogginess that plagued him long after his physical wounds healed. "I thought I was just a failure at this. I was recognized before as being the best. I knew my stuff real well. It made me feel like I wasn't a Marine no more."

Medical experts say traumatic brain injuries are the signature wound of the Iraq war, a byproduct of improved armor that allows troops to survive once-deadly attacks but does not fully protect against roadside explosives and suicide bombers.

They have become so common that special brain injury centers are being set up at VA hospitals to deal with it. So far, about 1,000 people have been treated for the symptoms, which include slowed thinking, severe memory loss and coordination and impulse control problems. Some doctors fear there may be thousands more active duty and discharged troops who are suffering undiagnosed.

"People who were hit by lightning, a lot of energy goes through their systems and their brains are cooked," said Dr. Harriet Zeiner, lead neuropsychologist for the polytrauma unit at the VA hospital in Palo Alto. "A lot of that happens in (improvised explosive devices) blasts. Your brain is not meant to handle that energy blast going through it."

The injury is a physical loss of brain tissue that shares some symptoms with but is markedly different than PTSD, which is triggered by extreme anxiety and permanently resets the brain's fight-or-flight mechanism.

Battlefield medics and military supervisors often miss traumatic brain injuries. Many troops don't know the symptoms or won't discuss their difficulties for fear of being sent home.

"Most of us are used to the Vietnam War, where people didn't trust the government," Zeiner said. "That's not going on here. A lot of these guys want to go back, they want to go help their buddies."

***Most of these guys want to go back to help their buddies, yes! But! Who in the hell said that the Vietnam Vets didn't want to do the same? This government is trusted "LESS" than the administrations that served during the Vietnam War! And you can take that one to the bank!

The most devastating effects of traumatic brain injuries---depression, agitation and social withdrawal---are difficult to treat with medications, said Dr. Rohit Das, a Boston Medical Center neurologist who treats injured troops at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

Certain symptoms, such as seizures, can be treated, but after that "we just draw a blank," Das said, adding that docotrs are just beginning to cope with the mounting volume of brain injuries as the war drags on.

"We're just unlocking the secrets of the brain," he said. "And when they have memory problems, leg weakness, arm weakness---there's no quick fix for that. We're probably decades away from regrowing brain tissue. Once you lose that, it's permanent."

In Reyes' case, the Purple Heart recipient didn't recognize his dad and his closest friends when they picked him up at the airport.

His math and reading skills had deteriorated to a child's level.

A machine gun operator in the war, he was demoted from his position teaching young recruits while healing at Camp Pendleton after he began forgetting the differences between weapons.

After his injury was discovered, he was sent to Palo Alto VA hospital, where his treatment includes exercises to improve his speed and attention and control angry outbursts.

But his memory may never fully recover: He'll watch a movie halfway through before remembering he has already seen it multiple times. He forget basics tasks without Post-it notes and alerts programmed into his cell phone and personal digital assistant.

He feels "like I'm back to a little kid," he said. "I've got to go through the whole process. It's frustrating, depressing and very overwhelming."

Even in troops without documented brain injuries, the constant barrage of improvised explosives is taking a toll.

A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Iraq war veterans are more likely than other U.S. troops to suffer mild memory and attention lapses.

Researchers were split on whether the study---which did not look for traumatic brain injuries---revealed precursors to serious mental health problems, or reflected normal changes during the transition back to civilian life.

The spike in traumatic brain injury cases is forcing the Dept of VA to expand its treatment. The VA currently operates four hospital trauma centers specializing in treating traumatic brain injuries, and is now creating 21 smaller regional facilities, said Secretary of VA R. James Nicholson.

"This is very high priority," he said. "It's a very serious injury to those young heroes that suffer it. We're pulling out all the stops."

The patients need a combination of psychiatric, psychological and physical rehabilitation that can be difficult to coordinate in a traditional hospital, Nicholson said.

In troops with documented brain injuries, the loss of brain function is often compounded by other serious injuries.

Eric Cagle, a 26-year-old Army staff sergeant from Arizona, lost his right eye and was paralyzed on his left side when an IED exploded under his patrol Humvee two years ago.

A concussion he sustained in the balst left him with a brain injury that makes math difficult, triggers inappropriate outbursts, and led to his divorce.

He says treatment has improved his outlook. Though confined to a wheelchair, he began walking tentatively again last year, and wants to study forensic science to work in an FBI crime lab.

"I'm getting part of me back here," he said in Palo Alto. "I'm getting my life back."

Kristin Facer, 32, an Army first lieutenant, said the IED blast hit her armored 18-wheeler a year ago rattled her in her seat belt but didn't appear to injure anyone in her convoy.

"It was an adrenaline rush," she said.

But several doctors' visits later for back, vision and memory problems---she once was unable to name the president---revealed her brain injury.

She was treated this summer in Palo Alto and moved to Colorado, where she remains in the Army but will need continued therapy.

Despite her improvement, she fears she won't recover enough to fulfill her dream of learning Arabic and teaching at West Point, and has painfully readjusted her goals to suit her injury.

"It's really hard to let go of the person you were before," she said. "But it would be destructive not to. If I constantly compare myself to what my capabilities were before, I'm going to fall short of everything."


And now D.O.D. is cutting funding to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center:

That story can be read on this blog:

08/20/06---VA Issues: STOP CONGRESS FROM CUTTING FUNDS FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)

***As usual, whatever Nicholson had to say in this article is a lie!



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