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Kathy Helmick: 20% of Military Traumatic Brain Injuries Occur in Reserves

Combat Injuries Often Go Undetected for Months, DoD Medical Official Says

Nearly one-fifth of traumatic brain injuries in the military occur in the reserve components and many of those injuries go undetected for months as reserve personnel return to their communities, a top military medical officer said Monday, according to an American Forces Press Service report.

Kathy Helmick, deputy director and acting national director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, told an audience of civilian medical workers in Baltimore the undetected and untreated injuries could affect unit readiness as injured service members have reduced reaction times.

Helmick also outlined how the Defense Department developed TBI care standards to determine where injuries happened, how quickly they were examined by field medical staff and plans to apply treatment in the battlefield.

“If you’re involved in a blast in a vehicle, or if you’re within 50 meters of a blast, you have direct blow to your head, or are exposed to more than one blast event, you are mandated by this policy to go get checked out to see if there’s been a concussion,” Helmick said, according to AFPS.

Army medics or Navy corpsmen use the department's Military Acute Concussion Evaluation to determine if soldiers have concussions with the goal of identifying and treating the injuries early so soldiers can return to duty, according to Helmick.

More Stories By Tim Watson

Tim Watson supervises all media production at Executive Mosaic, a digital media company that provides insight, information and analysis on several industries, including government contracting.

He previously produced byline coverage with the economics team at USA Today and evaluated lending proposals for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Tim was born and raised in Washington, DC and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business-Journalism from Washington and Lee University and a certificate in budgeting and finance from Georgetown University's School of Continuing Professional Education.

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