You will have to learn to live with it or maybe not
It is reported that as many as 800,000 or 40% of the over 2 million coalition forces that have served in combat theatres over the last decade are struggling to deal with the silent debilitative injuries as a long term consequences of “mild Traumatic Brain Injury”. It is unfortunate that the U.S. Armed Forces continually adjust labels on these silent injuries. In the last ten years, labels such as mild Traumatic Brain Injury, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, post traumatic stress disorder, concussion, post combat syndrome, post-concussion syndrome, primary blast injury, tertiary blast injury have been interchangeably to describe the growing number of veterans that are afflicted. Is this really an effort to define these injuries for better treatment and follow-up care or an concerted effort on the part of the Departments of Defense to obscure the true impact of war on the service-members sent into harms way?
The mechanisms of visibly non-apparent brain injuries may be quite different, and if this true, effective treatment may be also be quite different. We must steer away presumptive diagnosis that assume that because “WAR IS HELL” you therefore must be a casualty with psychological trauma. “Observational research” that assumes cause and effect relationships (ie. Number of firefights to incidence of PTSD) should be avoided. Numbers of casualties are mounting as the veterans with these silent injuries seek care. The Veteran’s Administration seems to be overwhelmed. Reports are coming to light, that impaired veterans are discharged without benefits that will help them to address service related injuries. This is not new. Approximately 300,000 veterans in the United States are homeless and sleep on the streets each night. Is this a legacy of a grateful nation?
Over the last 95 years, veterans have gone to war on the behalf of the United States, at the discretion of the Commander in Chief. After these conflicts, a significant population of these veterans have never been the same,living a life with impairment. Is it not the obligation of this nation to care for those injured in the defence of the freedoms we as citizens enjoy? Nevertheless veterans and the families of veterans have struggled to receive care following each and every conflict fought. The time has come for us to step back and re-evaluate the approach we have to treating and thanking veterans for their dedication and service and to reach out and let them their commitment has not been forgotten.
On the last 95 years the therapeutic approach to the silent wounds of war have focused on Acceptance, Submission, Accommodation and Compensation. This is a cookie cutter approach to healthcare. Blasts, explosions, detonations, pressure changes from sustained firing of individual weapons in firefights, or firing of crew served weapons are pressure generating events. “Blasts inflict damage to the brain directly and by causing injuries to other organs, resulting in air emboli, hypoxia and shock.” The effects of pressure change on the human body have been studied for over one hundred years. These effects are treatable when recognized.
On the 15th of November 2013, a research team from Israel published an article entitled “ Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Improve Post Concussion Syndrome Years after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury”. The U. S. DOD has been looking at Hyperbaric Oxygen as a treatment intervention for veterans with the silent or signature wound of the War on Terror for over 8 years. In that time 5 studies have run concurrently with less than 250 total subjects. In all cases those involved in the experience substantial improvements in quality of life. The researchers has written these positive responses off to a “placebo effect”. Isn’t it suspicious that over one billion dollars spent over the last decade on research initiatives on this injury have failed to produce a similar and replicated “Placebo effect”. When the results were reported to Army Surgeon General Eric Shumacher, his reply was “we need to get a cheaper placebo”.
How much more will take until see this effective treatment intervention used?