TBI Symptoms May Not Subside

In a press release (found on Digital Journal with a lawyers op-ed at the end, forget the source understand the implications) research is showing that war veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are not showing improvement of traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptoms;

A brain health organization recently announced the results of a study of traumatic brain injuries. By looking at 500 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the research concluded that brain injury symptoms did not subside over the course of eight years. Instead, the veterans reported slightly worse conditions over the course of time. This research draws more attention to traumatic brain injuries as “invisible wounds.” Even though veterans with brain injuries may look completely whole and healthy on the outside, painful and frustrating consequences can continue to make post-service life extremely difficult.

Brain injury symptoms include severe headaches, memory problems, impulsivity or impaired judgment, and even depression. Taken as a group, these symptoms are often called post-concussive syndrome. At least 253,000 American servicemen and women were diagnosed with brain injuries in the last twelve years.

Study’s Results Show Bad News For Brain Injury Victims The new study looked at symptoms of post-concussive syndrome over a period of time. Researchers evaluated veterans with brain injuries during the first four years after a brain injury and then again in the next four years after that. Over the course of eight years, the researchers found that symptoms still had not diminished. Almost 50 percent of the surveyed veterans reported continuing headaches. Forty-six percent said  that their headaches were still “severe” up to four years after an injury. Fast forward another four years and the numbers were even worse: 51 percent of respondents said that they suffered from severe headaches.

Researchers also said that a similar pattern appeared in other brain injury symptom categories like depression, impulsive decision-making, and coordination. Because brain injuries can be cumulative, veterans who suffered multiple concussions also seemed to experience even worse symptoms.

I will be efforting the actual study, but it is worth the note that concussions/TBI’s are often forgot after the fact because they are invisible to everyone, except for the person suffering (I have extensive experience in this as well).

Although the study concludes worsening symptoms over time, I would like to interject something here.  I would venture to guess that most if not the vast majority of the TBI’s in the study were not handled/managed correctly.  If you go back eight years the treatment of this injury was way wrong, and often never allowed the brain to fully heal.

This study really hammers home the need for proper management, remember that the elephant in the room is not the injury, rather the mismanagement of the injury.  I can confidently state that in 2004 concussions were mismanaged and now we are seeing some results of this.  Moreover, this should justify removing anyone with a TBI/concussion from activity until fully recovered; sports, military or life in general.

4 thoughts on “TBI Symptoms May Not Subside

  1. Paul Beatty October 30, 2012 / 18:30

    I agree that TBIs have been mismanaged and continue to be so. Treatment usually consists initially of tylenol or aspirin or some pain killer. If you understand EFA biochemistry and human physiology then this “standard approach” treats the symptom and feeds the cause of the TBI—tissue damage and an imbalance of eicosanoids. The cyclo-oxygenase enzyme system is blocked by aspirin and NSAID drugs,as well arachidonic acid is blocked from becoming free arachidonic acid by steroid drugs. A safe approach to treating the TBI and one that works with human physiology would be to raise PGE1 levels,lower PGE2 levels and raise slightly PGE3 levels. In this way the inflammation (leukotrienes,PGE2) would be manipulated and reduced and the transport system would be restored to carry EPA,DHA,GDLA,AA and parent EFAs–ALA and CLA to heal the tissue along with specific amino acids. It is too bad for all these soldiers that the medical establishment continues with their treatments the same as always and the drugs do not work—they prolong the suffering. Traditional medicine has at least got one part right –rest so the brain can heal itself — now they need to understand what building blocks and transportation system is required to help the brain heal. Recent news from http://www.brainhealtheducation is showing that EFAs are a big part of the answer. Hello Doctors– Yes,you are what you eat!

  2. brokenbrilliant November 2, 2012 / 06:53

    Thanks for posting this – I can definitely concur with Paul Beatty above. It’s very interesting to hear that aspirin can actually block the recovery of the brain. How terribly ironic.

    I would also add that management of TBI is as much about re-learning and re-developing cognitive and behavioral capabilities, as it is about addressing the nutrition aspects. Management of TBI is also about managing expectations and learning how to give yourself and your brain time and space to re-acclimate to a “new normal”. Not a “new normal” of severe impairment and reduced expectations from life, as some would have us believe, but a new version of our lives and our capabilities… learning to go about doing the same old things in whole new ways.

    Another oft-overlooked aspect of TBI is the post-traumatic stress that can accumulate over time. If we understand PTSD as a physiological phenomenon that arises from an off-kilter autonomic nervous system after serious shocks to the system, and we recognize that repeated shocks can come from living your life as a stranger to yourself/friends/family and having things constantly get screwed up without understanding why, and we recognize that the micro-traumas and stresses of dealing with this new way of being and experiencing our lives really do add up… then you’ve got an excellent basis for understanding the post-traumatic stress aspects of TBI — which in the case of veterans are likely to be even more extreme, given battle experiences.

    TBI doesn’t just go away. Nor does PTSD. The two feed each other, and PTSD can lead to behaviors that lead to yet more brain injuries (aggression can lead to fights, and increased risk-taking behavior and lead to accidents and falls). The two can go hand-in-hand, and it surprises me that more people aren’t paying closer attention to this in a broader sense than a combat context.

    In any case, it’s good that people are studying the situation and finally seeing what many of us already know (but few actually believe). There is progress. I just wish it were a little faster.

    • Paul Beatty November 2, 2012 / 11:04

      Thanks for listening BrokenBrilliant: Let me first correct a typo in my blog and that is that GDLA was meant to be DGLA which of course is dihommo-gammalinoleic acid. To maximize PGE1 for repair take 2 parts GLA to 1 part EPA (note- the form of triglycerides is crucial and the position of the EFA derivative in the triglyceride is crucial —translation–use only biologically active evening primrose oil and NOT borage oil) (use only the whole triglyceride and NOT ethyl esters–translation–pure or fermented cod liver oil only. Make sure that all co-factors are present for the conversion process from cis linoleic acid to gamma linoleic acid to dihommo-gammalinoleic acid to PGE1. Most critical co-factors that are often depleted due to drugs are: magnesium,zinc(in men),iron,calcium,Vit.C,B3,B6.B12. This protocol is safe and usually within 90 days recoveries are phenominal. All this is doing is going around blockages caused by stress hormones (ie-cortisol etc.) as they impair the delta6,5,4 enzymes on the EFA metabolic pathway. In laymans terms—were opening the transport pathway to deliver the correct materials (live fats including some medium chain saturates–coconut oil and unpasteurized butter along with the LCPUFAs) so the brain can repair itself. Balance and moderation and reducing impairment by lifestyle factors is the key. This is not false hope but understanding how mother nature,evolution,human physiology and science can work together. The problem with science in this arena is that man must have a measuring stick to go by. Good Luck–we are just now in the last 30 years discovering many eicosanoids and it appears that the cell membrane of our cells can produce up to 2000 eicosanoids per second per cell. If we are to help people then we need to focus on results and safety,not procedures and profits!

      • brokenbrilliant November 2, 2012 / 19:43

        Thanks for sharing this information. You know, I have always wondered a bit about why “all of a sudden” concussion and TBI are such big deals. Seriously, they are so common and so widespread, and they haven’t just started happening in the past 20 years. Brain injuries have happened since the beginning of time — and yet the human race has survived. Surely, there must be some reason we recently have been so ravaged by TBI… and I do believe it’s because of the non-foods we eat, and the poor quality of general nutrition, not to mention sedentary lifestyles and poor physical fitness in the general population. I firmly believe that Mother Nature has ways of healing us up – we have just become too distanced from them. That’s got to change, and I think it is. Slowly but surely, it is happening.

        Thanks again for your info. It is very important to know about.

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