Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is commonly called the "signature" injury of the current war. A lot of debate and misunderstanding has surrounded the TBI discussion. It is also well known that
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often accompanies TBI. Both TBI and PTSD are debilitating conditions, and can be even more incapacitating when experienced simultaneously. CBS 60 Minutes ran a segment on May 5, 2013 highlighting the true picture of the face of TBI and PTSD, namely that 36% of soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered a TBI.
The news, however, is missing and failing to report a potentially life-threatening medical condition that accompanies both TBI and PTSD. Namely, that 36% (about 504,000) who suffer TBI, 50% (approximately 252,000) will develop Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE), and those soldiers with PTSD can experience non-epileptic seizures. Our soldiers and veterans are not being told of this possibility. For example, Mark (not his real name), served in Afghanistan and had multiple deployments. Four years ago he left the military. Mark had suffered a mild TBI, but did not seem to experience any lasting issues. That is until last month. Mark was riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle down the Interstate and had a seizure. Over the last month, Mark has had three surgeries and is trying to understand why he was not told of his potential of developing PTE. Can you imagine how devastating Mark's condition is to him and his family?
The seriousness of PTE is further complicated because there is currently no way of knowing who will or will not develop PTE...or when...some have developed PTE 30 or more years after the TBI.
It is high time we start talking about PTE!! Our veterans who have suffered a TBI or who are experiencing PTSD deserve to know what may lie ahead for them. This is a public health issue that everyone should be talking about, but no one is.
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