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Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by exposure to explosions is common among Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. TBI is an injury to the head that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain.

If you suspect that you have a TBI, go to your nearest VA health care facility for TBI screening.

OEF/OIF/OND Veterans’ risk for TBI

An X-ray of a person's brain

For Veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND), the sources of blast injury most often are improvised explosive devices (IED), also called roadside bombs; artillery, rocket and mortar shells, traps, aerial bombs, and rocket-propelled grenades. TBIs also can be caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls or any incident involving a sudden blow or jolt to the head.

Even a mild TBI, also known as a concussion, can affect a person’s physical functioning and mental health.

About 90 percent of TBIs are mild, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Symptoms of TBI

Immediately after the incident, common symptoms include dizziness, confusion, or “seeing stars;” no memory of the incident; and loss of consciousness or feeling “knocked out.”

Later on, symptoms include:

  • Persistent headache or neck pain
  • Sensitivity to light or noise, blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Tiredness, lack of energy
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Chronic depression, anxiety, apathy
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, reading
  • Problems with concentration, organizing daily tasks

TBI screening

You should be screened for TBI if you experienced any of the following during your military service:

  • Close proximity to a blast or explosion
  • Fragment wound or bullet wound above the shoulders
  • Blow to the head
  • Vehicle accident or crash
  • Fall

To learn more about TBI, diagnosis and treatment, visit the VA Polytrauma website and the Deployment Health Clinical Center website (Department of Defense).


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