Significant number of troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries

March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month and although much more needs to be done Utah Brain Injury Council member John Ribera says much of this year’s progress can be traced to the National Football League. Ribera, who is director of Audiology in the Utah State University Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education, says the NFL has come forward with information on veteran athletes whose multiple concussions during their careers have had a devastating effect on them and their families. A retired military officer, Ribera says about 20 percent of the troops coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan have also sustained some form of traumatic brain injury. “These improvised explosive devices, for instance, gun fire or anything that can shock the system,” Ribera says can cause a traumatic brain injury. “Many of them have undergone this problem,” he continued. “Now they are coming home and trying to deal with the issues of coming back into society and maintaining relationships with family and friends when they’re just not quite right yet.” Ribera says, fortunately, the military is doing a remarkable job now in identifying and treating those with traumatic brain injuries. But, he said on KVNU’s Crosstalk show Tuesday, there is still a great deal to do in dealing with what he called a “silent epidemic.”

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