News: Tripler Army Medical Center promotes Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month
HONOLULU - The Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Clinic at Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) hosted an open house in honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month on March 21. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the function of the brain, that range from mild, medium to severe.
“It’s not a well-known problem that people won’t normally think about,” said Dr. Sarah Miyahira, Regional Director for TBI clinics in the Pacific. “What we’re trying to do, and not just with the open house. We’re inviting patients, we’re inviting providers, and we’re inviting anybody who’s interested. We want them to take a look at some of the demonstrations we’re having by various specialty clinics we have here that treat TBI.”
The clinic at TAMC does more than just treat these injuries, they provide a comprehensive and multi-faceted program of treatment if a service or family member experiences a TBI.
“The clinic actually provides not just an evaluation or an assessment to determine a diagnosis,” Miyahira continued. “We have a whole panel of providers in specialty areas that can provide additional services, once we know what the symptoms are that people are experiencing, what the level of severity might be, whether or not they have a history of other concussions.”
The services offered by the Tripler TBI Clinic include occupational, speech and physical therapy, neurological services; ear, nose and throat consultations; case management, optometry, patient tracking and patient and family education. Dr. Miyahira also wants the Pacific to know, the services offered by her clinic are not confined to those on the island of Oahu or in the state of Hawaii.
“The services that Tripler offers is not limited to someone coming here,” explained Miyahira. “We do a lot of services for American Samoa through tele-health, and we do consultations with the other military treatment centers in Japan, Korea and Okinawa, in regards to TBI. We also assist other providers and sometimes we even do a consultation with the patients themselves, in terms of rehabilitation treatment that they don’t have on site there.”
These TBI-related injuries don’t necessarily happen on the battlefield. According to Dr. Gregory Johnson, Medical Director of the Concussion Clinic, 80 percent happen in places other than combat.
“We see a number of motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, training accidents, things like that, “ said Johnson. “We get a variety and we see all ages and all branches of the military here – we see a little bit of everything.”
Another important aspect of TBI awareness is not only to know the various places these injuries can happen, but to ensure you know the signs and symptoms, no matter what the situation or who may have hit their head.
“Being aware or seeking care if you do have an alteration of consciousness … dazed, confused, getting your bell rung - any type of injury that would signify a concussion, Johnson continued. “We would like everyone to be seen early, but almost everyone with a mild injury gets better, the treatment helps you get better faster.”
Doctor Miyahira stressed some of the symptoms to look for if you’re present in the instance someone does hit their head."
“You want to look for the acute signs in terms of whether or not they black out, in other words if they lose consciousness, “ she explained. “You also want to notice if they do seemed stunned and not really aware in those few moments that’s where they are. You can ask them who they are, where they are, if they know what’s going on, basically. After a few hours you want to keep them quiet, you want to keep them from being involved in too much activity, such as brain activity, physical activity, so rest is really important. What you really want to look for are signs that they’re dizzy or complaining about other kinds of symptoms - headaches, sensitive to light, sensitive to sound, there are many other symptoms.”
For more information, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center or DVBIC, a DCoE center, assists the DoD and Veterans Affairs in optimizing care of service members and veterans who have sustained a TBI, at home and in a deployed setting, through state-of-the-art clinical care, innovative research, care coordination, educational tools and resources.