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UNRAVELING TBI: Signs and symptoms of Traumatic brain injuries

Artwork depicting a hand unraveling the inner workings of a human brain

Title of the blog article which is written by Deny Caballero

If there is one common thread that connects all veterans, it’s that we are all very

stubborn when it comes to our health. We hate discussing injuries, health issues,

and chronic pain with our Doctors. Sure, we’ll complain all day and night to our

wives or significant others, and we even laugh about it in the team room.

We avoid serious talks because deep down, we all know that if we were ever genuinely vulnerable with our providers and medical team, it could lead to the end of our careers as we know it. For many SOF professionals, migraines,chronic pain, vestibular issues, and a myriad of other common medical problems are worth enduring if it means staying operational for just one more year.

Sadly, this mentality has led countless individuals down a path of unimaginable pain and torment. Placing your health and well-being first does not have to be a death sentence for your career; in fact, by stepping back and addressing the issues when they first present themselves, you are ensuring that you can continue doing what you love for longer. Perhaps the most significant health issue that the veteran community is facing today is undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries(TBI). After 20 years of constant war, many of our Nation's conventional soldiers and members of Special Operations are silently struggling with the after effects of undiagnosed TBI's. 

Traumatic brain injuries are difficult to diagnose even when taken to the hospital immediately after a severe incident. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH) describes TBI's as...

Hand drawn image of the human brain
NIH definition of what a brain injury is

Furthermore, the NIH breaks down TBI’s into two distinct categories:

penetrating and non-penetrating.

Art work depicting a penetrating brain injury

Penetrating – Occurs when an

object pierces the skull

( bullet, bone fragment,hammer, e-tool)

and actually enters the brain tissue.

Artwork depicting a non-penetrating brain injury

Non-penetrating – ( Blunt force trauma)

These are caused by an external force that is strong enough to jar and actually move the brain inside the skull. For example, jumping from a two-story building to avoid enemy

mortars, shooting the Carl-Gustaf within the

turret of your MWRAP, interior breaching both

in training and in real life,shooting mortars,

shooting artillery, detonating explosives at

a range and even shooting the M107

Barret .50 Cal all qualify as incidents that could

cause Non-penetrating TBI’s. 

Signs and Symptoms

The most important thing you can do to stay ahead of the issues is to learn the signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Below are some of the most common indicators that you may have experienced a TBI in the past.

-Loss of consciousness. Even if just for a few seconds


-Unequal Pupils / double vision


-Neurological issues such as: slurred speech, weakness in extremities


-Blurred vision / binocular dysfunction 

-Sensitivity to light, sound, or rapid movement 



-Sudden Fatigue 

-Memory issues


-Mood swings

-Slowed function: movement, thinking, and speaking


-Loss of taste or smell


-Sleep apnea

-Balance issues

-Problems Concentrating 

If you identify with these symptoms, it is not too late; there are countless resources and Doctors who are willing to help you today! Don’t let fear keep you from reaching out for help. Do the research, talk to your providers, be vulnerable, and place your health at the top of your list of priorities.


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