Houston VA Studies Traumatic Brain Injuries

The Houston VA Hospital has received a $5 million dollar grant to study and develop treatment for traumatic brain injuries, especially in veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jim Bell reports.

Traumatic brain injuries are not new to the VA, but the alarming numbers of middle east war veterans with those kinds of injuries is new.  Houston VA Hospital Director Dr. Blase Carabello:

"Our soldiers are experiencing a different kind of traumatic brain injury than ever before. This kind of concussion, from blasts, is not unique to this conflict, but certainly it is the hallmark of it." 

The VA says more than 300 thousand veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have come home with brain injuries of varying severity. Dr. Carabello says many brain injuries are obvious, but many are not, and many soldiers don't even know they have one. 

"And that's what this program is designed to, A, detect. And, B, to start, once you realize that it exists, then what can you do to treat it?"  

Carabello says the $5 million dollar grant is from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it will be used to establish a new VA Rehabilitation Center of Excellence, which will focus on learning how to detect and treat these mild to moderate brain injuries. 

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.