In an effort to raise awareness of the often untreated injuries sustained in war and the desperate need for our services, Healing Heroes Network has created the Hero Giveaways campaign!
100% of the proceeds from our Hero Giveaways Campaign will go directly to Healing Heroes Network, to help fund our mission of healing injured Service Members through our many diverse programs and services.
The current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are creating a new generation of injured veterans. Medicine has made remarkable advancements over the years, allowing doctors to mend wounds that would've once been deadly. While we've gotten very good at saving lives, we need to improve our ability to save our Heroes' quality of life.
Traumatic Brain Injuries are being called the "signature injury" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. TBI's are caused when an outside force damages the brain. TBIs occur often in vehicle accidents and explosions, usually the by-product of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or known as the roadside bomb.
Classified by severity, TBI's can range from mild (known as concussions) to severe which can cause major long-term disability in survivors. Symptoms and treatments are all individual to the patient, but they are often variable upon the severity.
Symptoms and signs depending on many factors, including location of injury in brain, type of injury, and severity of injury. Some TBI symptoms include (but aren't limit to): loss of consciousness for a few seconds to minutes, headache, vomiting, nausea, lack of motor coordination, dizziness, blurred vision, ringing in ears, bad taste in mouth, fatigue, changes in sleep pattern, mood changes, confusion, trouble with memory and concentration, dilation of one or both pupils, and increased intracranial pressure.
Primary and Secondary injuries account for the majority of severe TBI difficulties and deaths. Primary injuries include the damage that occurs at the moment of trauma when blood vessels and tissues are torn, pulled, and pushed together. Secondary injuries include damage to the blood-brain barrier, inflammation, excessive release of chemicals, damage to neurons, changes in brain blood-flow, increased pressure, and hemorrhage.
Treatments for TBI are similarly wide-ranging, depending on primary and secondary injuries and the severity of injuries. Immediately after injury, it is most important to stabilize patients by decreasing cranial pressure, ensure proper oxygen intake with ventilators, steadying blood pressure, regulating body temperature, preventing seizures, etc. Treatments for the long-term generally include rehabilitation services. Many patients may need to relearn skills and functions, as well as regain mobility and strength lost during extended hospital stays. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and the use of different medications and chemicals to provoke activity in the brain are currently being researched as methods to effectively treat TBI and facilitate recovery.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop after being exposed to an event that results in psychological trauma. PTSD can disrupt a person's life and make it hard to continue with daily activities. PTSD is a very common disorder in the military that can be caused from witnessing and being active in combat, as well as sexual trauma.
Symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma through flashbacks and/or nightmares, avoidance of things and situations associated with the trauma, and increased arousal (such as problems falling and/or staying asleep, anger, and hyper-vigilance). To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must exhibit symptoms for longer than one month and they must cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
PTSD can lead to substance abuse, marital problems, employment problems, homelessness, and in drastic cases, suicide.
PTSD has many different management methods, but it is very important to have a doctor's approval before starting any management regime. These include psycho-therapeutic methods, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Interpersonal Psychotherapy; as well as medications to target specific symptoms of PTSD, such as depression or anxiety.
Many veterans throughout history have experienced Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. CRPS is a chronic progressive disease marked by severe pain and swelling. It often affects an arm or a leg and may spread to another part of the body. It is associated with deregulation of the autonomic nervous system, resulting in loss of functionality, impairment, and/or disability. A debilitating disorder with records of occurring all the way back to the American Civil War, many military personnel experience CRPS after bullets are removed or limbs are repaired, yet the pain remains.
There are two types of CRPS. Type I (previously known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) does not have observed or demonstrable nerve damage. Type II (previously known as Causalgia) does have observed or demonstrable nerve damage.
The pain of CRPS is often continuous and may be increased by stress. Moving or touching the limb can be unbearable. The symptoms of CRPS vary in severity and duration, but commonly include: shooting pains, muscle spasms, local swelling, abnormally increased sweating, changes in skin temperature and color, softening and thinning of bones, joint tenderness or stiffness, and/or restricted or painful movement.
To be diagnosed with CRPS, one must have a history of abnormal swelling, blood flow, or sweating in the region of pain since the time of trauma, as well as have no other condition that could account for the pain and dysfunction occurring. To confirm CRPS through these diagnostic guidelines, sometimes professionals are able to use thermography, sweat testing, radiographs, and electrodiagnostic testing.
CRPS treatment is usually devised as the combination of different types of medications with distinct physical therapies. In drastic cases, amputation is used as a last resort. Improvement in pain tends to happen only 50% of the time, so professionals only recommend this course of action if other avenues have been exhausted.
Amputation is the removal of a body extremity by trauma, prolonged constriction, or surgery. In the current wars in the Middle East, amputations are largely the result of explosions and accidents, usually instigated by IED blasts.
Rehabilitation for amputations can come in many forms. Physical and emotional therapy help patients come to terms with their new situation and functionality. Patients can learn how to operate wheelchairs, crutches, and/or prosthesis.
Damaged nerves can cause pain in remaining limbs or feel as if the limb no longer there is in pain, similar to those suffering from CRPS (see above). Known as "phantom limb" or "phantom pains," treatments often include those associated with CRPS.
Burns are injuries, usually to the flesh, caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation, or friction. Burns occur from various means during deployment, including IED blasts.
Burns are classified as either 1st degree, 2nd degree, 3rd degree, and 4th degree (4th being the worst) depending on the depth of the injury and how far into the skin the burn damages. Due to location of burn and how severe it is, complications may arise. Some of these are shock, infection, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, and respiratory distress.
Treatment of burns can include removal of dead tissue, bandaging and dressing the injuries, fluid resuscitation, administration of antibiotics to avoid infection, and skin grafts.
Spinal Cord injuries are when the spinal cord is damaged by external trauma, not typically related to disease. Depending on where the spinal cord is damaged, the consequences can vary, ranging from pain to paralysis to incontinence. Spinal cord injuries are described at various levels of "incomplete", which can vary from having no effect on the patient to a "complete" injury which means a total loss of function.
Spinal cord injuries are most often traumatic, caused by lateral bending, dislocation, rotation, axial loading, or hyperextension of the cord.
Extent of injuries are determined by radiographic evaluations, using an x-ray, MRI or CT scan. A neurologic evaluation using sensory testing and reflex testing can help determine the motor function of a person with a spinal cord injury.
The rehabilitation process following a spinal cord injury typically begins in the hospital setting. Doctors, physical therapists, and psychologists can work together to decide on goals of recovery with the patient. Depending on the patient's injury and situation, they may need to go through physical therapy, learn to use adaptive equipment (like crutches or a wheelchair), make modifications to their residence, etc.
There are, of course, many other injuries that can easily disrupt daily life for our Heroes as well, that are not included in this list.
Healing Heroes Network wants to help the whole veteran. That's why we offer assistance for services in so many areas of medicine. We want our Heroes to return to their families and communities as healthy as they can be. They've earned this much.