Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Joint Staff doctor explains TBI diagnosis procedures

An Airman searches for salvageable items after missile attacks at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Jan. 12, 2020. At a Pentagon news conference, Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff Surgeon, said 110 service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries from the attack. Most have returned to duty, while 25 returned to the United States for further treatment, he said, and six more are still undergoing testing. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Derek Mustard) An Airman searches for salvageable items after missile attacks at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Jan. 12, 2020. At a Pentagon news conference, Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff Surgeon, said 110 service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries from the attack. Most have returned to duty, while 25 returned to the United States for further treatment, he said, and six more are still undergoing testing. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Derek Mustard)

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

WASHINGTON — Traumatic brain injuries can't be quickly diagnosed – as was the case with the Iranian missile attack on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Jan. 8, the Joint Staff surgeon said.

At a Pentagon news conference today, Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff Surgeon, said 110 service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries from the attack. Most have returned to duty, while 25 returned to the United States for further treatment, he said, and six more are still undergoing testing.

Following an attack, commanders assess injuries, Friedrichs said, and in this case, no one immediately appeared to have had acute injuries. "No one lost a leg, no one lost an eye, no one lost a limb – which was remarkable given the strength of these munitions," the doctor said.

Therefore, he explained, reports went up the chain of command saying no one had an acute injury. But a TBI takes time to diagnose, and the process is involved. Protocols call for TBI testing of service members who were within 50 meters of an explosion, were exposed to a series of explosions, had a direct blow to the head, or who exhibit symptoms such as headache, dizziness, memory problems, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, difficulty concentrating, irritability and visual disturbance.

The tests take up to two days to complete. But service members may have TBI and feel they can power through and just go back to duty. They may have symptoms, but they don't go away and may get worse, Friedrichs said.

"A lot of people have said, 'Well, why didn't we immediately identify everybody with a traumatic brain injury?'" the general said. "[It's] because the signs sometimes are fairly nonspecific. And … even though we've trained everybody who deploys downrange on what to look for, it's quite common that we'll have folks who will say, 'I just was blasted. Of course, I'm not going to feel quite right. I'm going to ride this out for a few days.' Or 'I'm going to wait and see if this gets better.' And then they come in several days or weeks after the fact."

While there are tests that can point to TBI, some cases also require an MRI. The closest MRI testing facility to Iraq is in Germany, adding to the delay in diagnosis.

The department takes TBI extremely seriously, the doctor said, and has invested $1.5 billion in diagnosing and treating the condition. Test groups are wearing sensors to measure blast effects that could give medical professionals better information when making diagnoses, he noted.

"I think that's going to be really exciting going forward because that takes some of the subjectivity out," he said. "There is no military in the world that has invested as much or has fielded as many evidence-based tools as what we have right now."

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

NICoE Education Webinar Series: June Poster

Publication
6/23/2021

Combat-related Concussion: Understanding Trajectories of Long-term Clinical and Imaging Outcomes

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Education and Training Events

TBICoE Virtual Quarterly Education Series: July 2021

Publication
6/22/2021

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence is hosting a caregiver education series to learn about TBI caregiver resources, mind-body wellness exercises, and current research in the field.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Education and Training Events

Progressive Return to Activity Following Concussion/mTBI Patient and Leadership Guide

Publication
6/22/2021

The Progressive Return to Activity Following Concussion/mTBI Patient and Leadership Guide alerts command and line leaders about the PRA process and provides service members with appropriate activities for each stage of their recovery.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI Topic Page Review Form

Publication
5/21/2021

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE) manages the content on the Health.mil Traumatic Brain Injury Topic Page for the Defense Health Agency (DHA). To submit content for review and approval to this page, Military Health System agencies and other government partners can email this form, along with attached content in a Word document, to the TBICoE website manager at dha.TBICoEinfo@mail.mil.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Signs and symptoms of a stroke, and what to do about them

Article
5/18/2021
Infographic about the sign of a stroke

For Stroke Awareness Month, we highlight some of the most important facts about strokes in men and women.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury

TRIP initiative bridges the gap between TBI research, clinical care

Article
5/13/2021
a statue of a broken circle

The Defense Intrepid Network launches the TRIP initiative to translate research findings into clinical practice.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month | Centers of Excellence

Longitudinal Study on Traumatic Brain Injury Incurred by Members of the Armed Forces in OIF/OEF

Congressional Testimony
5/4/2021

HR 5122 NDAA Conference Report for FY 2007 Sec. 721

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

NICoE at forefront of traumatic brain injury research and treatment

Article
5/3/2021
Picture of a mask with the American flag on one side and camo on the other side

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence is dedicated to treating and researching TBI injuries with the aim of getting patients back to maximum function.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury | Centers of Excellence

Help With Ongoing Symptoms Following Concussion/Mild TBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
4/28/2021

Although the majority of service members recover from concussion with little to no intervention, some experience symptoms beyond the first three months after their initial injury. This fact sheet addresses why symptoms continue to persist in some patients and how they can cope or seek additional help.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | TBI Educators | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

METC NDT trainees learn about brain disorders & care

Article
4/23/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask practicing using an EEG

NDTs help diagnose problems with the brain and nervous system, as well as sleep disorders, by use of state-of-the-art digital equipment to record electrical patterns which result in valuable data that the doctor needs to diagnose and treat their patients.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month

MACE 2 Provider Training Refresher

Publication
4/5/2021

This version of the MACE 2 Provider Training is a shortened refresher of the full-length training slides.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | TBI Educators | Traumatic Brain Injury

MHS Minute March 2021

Video
4/1/2021
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

March marked Brain Injury Awareness month in the military. We're spotlighting efforts across the MHS to combat Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and better understand how TBI impacts our Service members. For more information about the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), go to walterreed.tricare.mil/NICoE For more info on the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE), go to Health.mil/TBICoE

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Traumatic Brain Injury

DHA Centers of Excellence collaborate to improve TBI care

Article
3/31/2021
Medical personnel holding a model of the inner ear

The centers of excellence are divisions of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate.

Recommended Content:

Centers of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit

DOD warfighter brain health draft plan has six priorities

Article
3/31/2021
Military medical personnel looking at a patient's brain scan

Cognitive testing documentation throughout a service member’s career and beyond is one of six major operational concerns and priorities of service members.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit

What You Should Know About Concussions Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
3/30/2021

This fact sheet is designed to educate deployed service members about traumatic brain injuries immediately after concussion injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 15

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.