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Navy Medicine East Challenges Everyone to 'Think Ahead' of Brain Injuries - An All-Ages Threat

14 March 2017 by

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephane Belcher, Navy Medicine East Public Affairs

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Navy Medicine East staff and its health care facilities across the eastern hemisphere are encouraging the Navy and Marine Corps family to "Think Ahead: Be Safe. Know the signs. Get help," the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center theme for 2017.

"Traumatic brain injuries can happen to anyone, so it's especially important we think ahead when it comes to the prevention of brain injuries -- whether driving your kids to school, enjoying a recreational activity, or playing a sport," said Capt. Gail H. Manos, NME wounded, ill and injured, psychological health, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) program manager. "Everyone should learn the signs and symptoms of brain injury and when to get checked out. Early detection, evaluation, and treatment will shorten recovery time."

According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), every year 1.7 million people are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury -- a blow or jolt to the head which disrupts the normal function of the brain. Eighty percent of TBIs are mild, commonly called concussion, making it the most common form of brain injury for U.S. Armed Forces personnel. However, most TBIs are not combat related, even in military members.

Common symptoms following a concussion include headache, dizziness, sleep disturbances, vision changes, balance changes, fatigue, attention and memory problems, irritability and mood changes.

Most people who have a concussion recover quickly, with symptoms disappearing within a few hours to a few weeks. TBI symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. Recovery may be slower for older adults, young children, and teens. In severe cases, a TBI can lead to coma and even death.

NME hospitals and clinics are involved in various activities to help advance the understanding of TBI prevention and treatment.

Naval Hospital Pensacola's neurology team went to a local elementary school to demonstrate bicycle helmet fittings and gave helmets to the children. NH Camp Lejeune's Intrepid Spirit Concussion Recovery Center staff members will present at the TBI Research Symposium -- an exchange of data and ideas to advance research and treatment. NH Jacksonville's mental health team is hosting a TBI awareness booth in front of its installation commissary.

Military Health System is the national leader in TBI treatment and research, and has been instrumental in the advancement of various breakthroughs which are improving the lives of patients who have experienced brain injuries. The Department of Defense also offers a variety of products such as clinical recommendations, tool kits, and mobile applications to assist health care providers in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of patients with mild TBI.

For individuals who do sustain head injuries and get help, most can expect to fully recover. For more information on how to prevent TBI, visit http://1.usa.gov/21rvSMO.

NME oversees the delivery of medical, dental and other health care services to approximately 1 million patients across almost 100 facilities in the eastern hemisphere -- including the Tidewater Enhanced Multi-Service Market which brings together Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, McDonald Army Health Center, and U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley. Plus, its public health activities extend globally.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Navy Medicine East, visit www.navy.mil/local/navmedeast/ or www.med.navy.mil/sites/nme.

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