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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Saving Our Military Veterans from Traumatic Brain Injury

Oct 02, 2014 02:26PM

Awareness of the seriousness of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussion as a consequence of exposure to blast injuries and contact sports has reached an all-time high. The NFL concussion problem has been front page news for years. But it is the TBI or brain blast injury that our military veterans have suffered that is creating a crisis? Often military veterans do not realize that they have suffered brain injury because they have not been in a coma or even lost consciousness, yet exposure to repeated blasts from explosions creates a serious cumulative injury. 

Blast brain injury has two mechanisms: the concussive force and the pressure effect. Even one concussion is associated with depression and increased risk of suicide, but repeated injury dramatically exacerbates that statistic. The alarming rate of veteran suicide initially was at 18, then 22 and is now suspected to be 35 or more a day. 

The brain is analogous to a computer’s complex network of fiber tracks: to carry out any brain function, there is a locus of control and a network that needs to be activated. If we disrupt the initiation of function or the connections throughout the brain, poor cognitive function results. Injury to the left frontal and mesial temporal lobes of the brain contribute to some of the worst symptoms, including uncontrolled anger, depression, suicidal thoughts and problems with attention, concentration and memory. Many of these brain injury symptoms that our military veterans experience have been labeled as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex PTSD and treated ineffectively with medicine.

Medications do not create healing, and are therefore not treatment for brain injury. Medications do not inhibit cell death or block any neurodegenerative process. Non-healing is where the pathology of neurodegenerative disease begins. Although reevaluations by neurologists may establish that a brain-injured person has achieved a certain baseline of functional recovery, that is not confirmation that injury has healed at a cellular level. A given functional baseline does not guarantee that an individual will avoid future consequences such as early onset neurodegenerative disease. It is time to focus our thinking on healing. The future is now and therapies to recover are available.

Recovery from brain injury has never been as possible as it is now. A combination of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), nutrient maximization, pulsed electromagnetic therapy, neurobiofeedback, cognitive therapy, stem cell transplantation and other treatments all facilitate optimal outcome. If someone is a combat injured military veteran from the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict that believes they have suffered brain injury, they should contact the nonprofit Healing Arizona Veterans via  or Facebook.

Dr. Carol Henricks is the owner of Northstar Hyperbaric, located at 7598 N. La ​Cholla. For more information, call 520-229-1238 or visit See ad page 17.

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