Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Aug. 14, 2017
    It started with short-term memory loss. Next came the nighttime tremors that shook the water glass on their bedside table. By the time Megan Morseth’s husband Justin experienced his first seizure in 2013, she knew that something was seriously wrong.Justin was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2004 after serving as an infantryman in Iraq. He had been exposed to improvised explosive device (IED) explosions and rode in Bradley fighting vehicles, but he didn’t experience a single traumatic event. Yet by 2008, he began having unusual symptoms. At first, Megan believed Justin might be coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But it was his memory loss that was truly concerning.Before his memory loss, “If he were dropped in the middle of the woods, he could still find his way out,” Megan said. “But when he started having issues it became constant chaos. I’d have to physically go pick him up because he wouldn’t know how to get home. I had to prevent any self-harm.”Justin’s condition worsened after he began having seizures in 2013. Megan tried finding ways to get her husband the help he needed, reaching out to online support groups for veterans and their spouses on Facebook in search of guidance.In 2015, 11 years after discharge, Justin was diagnosed with a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI). While this diagnosis can be scary, Megan said that getting an official answer to Justin’s difficulties strengthened their connection as a couple.“We became more of a team,” she said. “It was less like caregiving and more like a partnership. He became a partner in our fight to get him well.” Through treatment and therapy, Justin’s symptoms radically diminished.Megan found that the online networks she encountered as a caregiver represented more than just advice for her family. They gave her an opportunity to give back and share advice with her fellow caregivers. She said that doing small things — like writing things down or creating mental cues — can make a big difference for those who are dealing with TBI and navigating the road to recovery. Megan encourages every caregiver to be strong and to trust their instincts.“Go with your gut and keep fighting,” Megan said. “It could save a veteran’s life.”Visit Stories on the A Head for the Future website to hear more compelling stories of recovery and hope from other service members and veterans. Have a story to share with our team? Submit your story by email today.
  • After TBI: Supporting the Military Child
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on April 19, 2017
    Military children make great sacrifices and face unique challenges. They often experience multiple moves, upsets to family routines, and separation from loved ones. These challenges become more difficult when a parent experiences an injury.Helping children understand more complex injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), can be tough. However, it is important to find ways to explain these injuries to your children.The families of the more than 344,000 service members, diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury since 2000, are learning to cope with the impact of injury. A Head for the Future, Military Kids Connect and Sesame Street for Military Families offer resources to help families through the TBI recovery process.Communicate thoughtfullyEven if you don’t know all the details about the injury or recovery process, try to sound reassuring when you speak to a child. Do your best to manage your own anxiety and to protect your child from information he doesn’t need. You can help manage anxiety in children by taking time to consider and plan what to say and how to explain the injury.The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) “Talking with Children About TBI” booklet offers communication techniques for parents or guardians to help children understand common changes during TBI recovery. It features specific techniques based on the age and stage of development of the child.The “TBI Tough Topics” on the Military Kids Connect website has information for older children to learn about living with a parent with TBI. They can listen to real experiences from military peers who experienced an injury.Create a sense of securityWhile an injured family member recovers, your family’s daily activities will change. It is important to establish new routines to adjust to your new normal. There is comfort in the familiar, especially in the everyday routines your family shares. Create routines to give your child something to look forward to each day.Sesame Street for Military Families provides tools to help families establish and maintain routines such as a downloadable worksheet, My Morning Routine, to help children create a morning routine. In addition, there are other resources for routines, including tips, videos and links that can help families. Spend time together as a familySet aside family time each week to connect with each other. Instead of focusing on the limitations of a family member’s injury, consider activities that everyone can enjoy, such as playing a board game, cooking or taking a walk. Hold a weekly family meeting to check-in with one other and talk about future plans; family members can take turns choosing and planning activities. In addition to family time, children need one-on-one time with their parents to feel heard and appreciated.Military Kids Connect offers a video series, Things We Do Together, which features families who share how spending time together helped them through the TBI recovery process.Stay ConnectedThese resources can help families through the TBI recovery process:A Head for the Future features videos, fact sheets and other informative materials for the military community; visit A Head for the Future to learn more, and follow A Head for the Future on Twitter and on Facebook.Military Kids Connect is a safe, online community for military children that provides access to age-appropriate resources to support children coping with the unique psychological challenges of military life. Visit the Military Kids Connect website to connect with other military families, join discussion boards, play videos and find information on tough topics.Sesame Street for Military Families helps military families and their young children cope with the challenges of deployment and build resilience in times of separation and change; read their Talk, Listen, Connect magazine and resources for additional information.
  • You Have the Power to Prevent TBI — Watch How
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on March 27, 2017
    Many people think of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a combat risk. However, most service members experience TBIs in non-deployed settings. That’s why the A Head for the Future “Power to Prevent” public service announcement video focuses on how to stay safe in everyday situations.The video, shot from the perspective of a service member, features a variety of everyday activities: cycling, playing sports, riding a motorcycle and just hanging out with friends. Each of these activities can result in a bump or jolt to the head — and potential TBI.The most common causes of non-combat-related brain injuries are falls, motor vehicle collisions, sports-related incidents and training accidents. Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of brain injury by making your safety a priority. The “Power to Prevent” video shows you how.Learn important safety tips such as:Make sure helmets fit snugly and wear other appropriate protective gear when necessary.Follow the rules of the road when cycling or operating a motor vehicle.Wear shoes with good traction when playing sports like basketball or doing CrossFit.Clear sports and fitness areas of obstacles like water bottles or backpacks.Watch the “Power to Prevent” video to see how you can easily reduce the risk of TBI and share it with others.To learn more about TBI, and watch more videos of service members who experienced TBI and got help for their recovery, visit the A Head for the Future Stories web page.