MTBIs in the Army

Everyone who signs up for military service with the United States Army knows there is a possible risk of injuries. One of the more common injuries among Army soldiers or others working on military bases is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). This term is often interchangeable in medical and legal settings with “concussion,” and some people deemed mTBIs as the so-called signature injury of recent military combat.

There are many misconceptions regarding mTBIs, which often means that injured individuals do not get the care they need or the full benefits they deserve for their injuries. It is important for anyone associated with the U.S. Army who is living with the effects of an mTBI to speak with a skilled brain injury attorney about their legal rights.

MTBI Occurrences Among Army Personnel

Army participation involves many different tasks and assignments, whether you are deployed or not.

Some incidents that might cause mTBI to those working for the Army include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Shock waves from improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
  • Gunshot or shrapnel wounds
  • Getting hit in the head by objects
  • Falling from high places

In too many instances, Army officials disregard head trauma that results in an mTBI diagnosis. They are of the old opinion that concussions are not serious injuries when, in reality, injured soldiers can suffer the effects of this injury for a long time. This is especially true when the injury does not receive proper treatment or occurs simultaneously with other conditions.

Why “Mild” Brain Injuries are Not Mild

Healthcare professionals often categorize traumatic brain injuries as mild, moderate, or severe. While these labels have specific clinical meanings and help guide initial treatment choices, the reality is that no brain injury is truly mild. Even TBIs that healthcare providers label as mild have the potential to result in significant and persisting adverse issues that most people would label as severe.

Some of these issues include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizzy spells
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Frequent headaches
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Depression

In many instances, these and other issues can persist for weeks or even months. When they do, they often interfere with a person’s ability to work, go to school, or even engage in activities that they enjoyed before their brain injury.

If a victim develops post-concussive disorder, a common complication, the effects of the injuries might last for years. As such, even a traumatic brain injury that a healthcare professional initially diagnosed as mild can have devastating effects on your ability to earn a living, advance your career, or live your life as you want.

Importantly, an mTBI may make it impossible for soldiers to perform their duties and actually may cause seemingly unrelated problems that may result in disciplinary action or even discharge. In some cases, the behavioral and psychological changes that accompany an mTBI result in conduct that can lead to criminal convictions or substance abuse issues.

The result of a study published in The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care indicated that the relative risk for behavioral issues was 1.8 times greater for those with mild TBI, with no difference for those with moderate or severe TBI. The effects of mTBI can wreak havoc on a sufferer’s life in more ways than you might ever expect.

Effects of PTSD on MTBIs

When an Army soldier engages in combat and encounters an explosion or another cause of mTBI, they might also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A significant percentage of those deployed in recent decades later receive a PTSD diagnosis, and symptoms can persist for a long time, even with treatment.

Research by military medical specialists recently linked together lingering effects of mTBI with the co-occurrence of PTSD. Signs indicate that when someone has PTSD or a similar psychopathology or mood disorder, it can cause post-concussive symptoms to persist much longer. Those with PTSD are more likely to have post-concussive disorder, which can last for months or years.

Combined symptoms can include:

  • Cognitive fatigue and confusion
  • Migraines and chronic headaches
  • Sleep disturbances

All of these can cause serious problems in a sufferer’s life, including preventing them from performing job duties as expected. A victim of both mTBI and PTSD will need ongoing medical support, as well as psychological or psychiatric treatment. Medications might be necessary to regulate mood and behavioral disorders due to both conditions.

Know Your Rights After an Army-Related mTBI

The legal landscape following an mTBI in the Army can be a complicated one. It can be difficult to find those who truly understand and appreciate the serious nature of your injury, as many people write off concussions as negligible injuries. To best protect your rights, you should consult with a brain injury attorney who works with veterans and Army soldiers.

Too often, the Army and other military-related resources fail to provide the necessary benefits and compensation that people with mTBI deserve.

Different issues arise in these cases, including:

  • The cause of the mTBI is not clear
  • The soldier did not receive immediate testing to diagnose the injury
  • The Army failed to provide proper treatment or time off for a soldier suffering from an mTBI

These injuries can affect your life in many ways, including your ability to work or maintain meaningful relationships. As mentioned above, some mTBI victims also behave recklessly, which can lead to many additional problems in their lives for which they need assistance.

Your specific rights to benefits or compensation will depend on the circumstances of how your injury occurred. For instance, if a third party was negligent and caused your brain injury, you might be able to file a personal injury claim to seek financial recovery for your losses. This might be in addition to any VA disability benefits you can apply for.

The best way to know your rights is to seek legal help. You should not have to worry about the legal process when you are already dealing with the serious effects of your mTBI. Contact a brain injury lawyer near you today.

October 12, 2021

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