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Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion in Veterans

Veterans with Concussions

By Katherine H. Taber, Ph.D. and Robin A. Hurley, M.D.

More veterans have brain injuries and concussions

Brain injuries are becoming increasingly more common with changes in modern warfare. Returning combat veterans may not know they have suffered such a wound. That is why VA doctors want returning soldiers and their families to have this information.

If the head is hit or shaken severely, a “concussion” or “closed head injury” can result. Many types of forces can cause a brain injury. Examples include being hit on the head, beingnear an explosion, and being in a motor vehicle accident. A brain injury can happen in the absence of any external injury. However, it is important to remember that presence of external injury does not mean the brain has been injured.

Concussion is seldom life threatening, so doctors often use the term “mild” when the person is only dazed or confused or loses consciousness for a short time. However, concussion can result in serious symptoms. People who survive multiple concussions may have more serious problems. Here are some of the more common symptoms of brain injury.

Common symptoms of brain injury concussion

Recovery following brain injury

Some symptoms may be present immediately. Others may appear much later. People experience brain injuries differently. Speed of recovery varies from person to person. Most people with mild brain injuries recover fully, but it can take time. Here are some things that can be done to promote healing, and to make symptoms easier to manage.

Promote healing and manage symptoms of concussion

Things that can help

Things that can hurt

Katherine Taber, Ph.D. and Robin Hurley, M.D. are at the Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center located at the W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, NC.

For more information on blast injuries and concussion, see the manual:

Understanding the Effects of Concussion, Blast and Brain Injuries:

Blast injury, PTSD and brain injury guide for families and caregivers on the consequences of concussion in veterans. Used by many VA Hospitals and Army Medical Facilities.