Military and Congress slow to respond to brain injured soldiers

Part 2 of Brain Injuries Undiagnosed in Thousands of Soldiers and the response is slow

ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff is carried on a stretcher from a bus to a medical evacuation plane at Ramstein airbase, southern Germany, on Jan. 31, 2006. (Michael Probst/AP Photo)

See Part 2 of  Brain Injuries Undiagnosed in Thousands of Soldiers

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR, ProPublica – WASHINGTON, D.C.

Missing Records

The military’s handling of traumatic brain injuries has drawn heated criticism before.

ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff chronicled the difficulties soldiers faced in getting treatment for head traumas after recovering from one himself, suffered in a 2006 roadside bombing in Iraq.

The following year, a Washington Post series about substandard conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital described the plight of several soldiers with brain injuries.Members of Congress responded by dedicating more than $1.7 billion to research and treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, a psychological disorder common among soldiers returning from war. They passed a law requiring the military to test soldiers’ cognitive functions before and after deployment so brain injuries wouldn’t go undetected.

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Brain Injuries Undiagnosed in Thousands of Soldiers

Military medical system is failing to diagnose brain injuries in troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, part 1 of 2

William Fraas during occupational therapy at Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation Center in El Paso, Texas. Fraas survived several roadside blasts in Iraq, but suffered brain damage. (Blake Gordon/Aurora Photos)

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR

ProPublica –  WASHINGTON, D.C.–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.  Continue reading Brain Injuries Undiagnosed in Thousands of Soldiers