Soldiers Get Quicker Concussion Treatment
Whether the military is sugarcoating its results or not, the Army is claiming to be succeeding in its efforts to treat brain injury on-site in war zones such as Afghanistan.
The Associated Press did a lengthy story Friday on the Army’s quest to treat what has become the signature wound of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan: brain injury, caused by roadside and suicide bombs.
The story chronicles the case of Staff Sgt. Isidoro Castillo, who sustained brain injury from the compression wave of a suicide bomb. The North Carolina native spent his recovery in one of the new housing facilities the Army has built for soldiers who have sustained concussions. There are seven such units now in Afghanistan, according to AP, an initiative led by the 101st Airborne Division.
Castillo is used as a case study of the Army’s announced strategy of trying better and quicker ways to address concussions and other brain injury on the spot, without shipping soldiers out of combat. The military’s policy is to treat concussions while not far from the battlefield.
Castillo was in fact diagnosed with a concussion, and he spent a recovering in one of the new units. According to AP, Castillo recuperated by doing activites like watching TV and playing video games. He met with doctors every day who kept tabs on his concussion symptoms, such as headaches and lack of concentration. He then was tested to determine when he was ready to return to his unit.
The soldier told AP that staying in the special housing reduced his stress and helped speed his recovery. One doctor quoted in the story said that it was imperative that soldiers with with concussions get eight hours straight of sleep, something that’s not likely in combat.
The miliary’s policy in Afghanistan, according to AP, is that a soldier be given at least a day of rest after their first concussion; a week of recuperation after their second concussion; and a detailed neurological exam following their third concussion.
The military seems to be taking concussions, invisible to the eye, as seriously as an open, bloody wound. Let’s hope it continues to do so.