an important note to the associated press about TBI

I appreciate the article this morning about the father and son who are both TBI survivors.  This story is important – people need to understand the risks and sacrifices our people in uniform face.  The following quote caught me by surprise :

Traumatic brain injury is a mysterious ailment that can cause mood swings, forgetfulness, paranoia and can strain any family. The mental wound afflicts an estimated 10 percent of troops returning from today’s wars.

The writer has mischaracterized Traumatic Brain Injuries as mental injuries.  According to the NHI it is “a form of acquired brain injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain”.

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/tbi.htm

Naturally there are mental and/or emotional symptoms that can result from the physical injury. My concern is that calling it a “mental injury” allows people to believe it is addressable purely as a mental health issue. This is often not the case.  This might seem like a petty distinction, but it is not.  Omitting the physical root cause from the equation allows people to potentially dismiss this something requiring a simple round of psychotherapy.  Of worse – something that is beyond the realm of medical science.  In other words – it allows people to cop out.

So – AP – please be careful to check your facts before employing medical definitions such as this. The distinction is very important to TBI survivors such as myself.

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