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Traumatic Brain Injuries Sustained in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars

Martin, Elisabeth Moy MA, RN-BC; Lu, Wei C. MS, BSN; Helmick, Katherine MS, CNRN, CRNP; French, Louis PsyD; Warden, Deborah L. MD

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: April 2008 - Volume 108 - Issue 4 - p 40–47
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000315260.92070.3f

Because these injuries can go unrecognized, nurses stateside need to know how to recognize possible cases and how to help.

Overview When traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs simultaneously with more obviously life-threatening wounds, it may go unrecognized. Civilians and military personnel working in or near combat zones are at risk for this injury. Blast-related and closed-head injuries, rather than penetrating injuries, constitute the majority of TBIs in this population. The authors describe the experiences of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center team at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, and present a composite case to illustrate the nurse's role in the assessment and care of the TBI patient.

Clinicians at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center discuss screening and intervention for what's been called the “signature wound” of U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Elisabeth Moy Martin is a clinical research nurse, Wei C. Lu is a clinical research coordinator, Katherine Helmick is the deputy director of Clinical and Education Affairs, and Louis French is the clinical director, all at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Deborah L. Warden, the national director of the DVBIC from 2001 through 2007, was also based at Walter Reed.

Contact author: Elisabeth Moy Martin,

The original manuscript submitted for publication was reviewed and approved by officials at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the U.S. Military Operational Security. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government. The authors have no significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.