A U.S. Army soldier is accused of killing 16 Afghan men, women and children in a house-to-house shooting rampage on Sunday. He could face the death penalty, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
The shooting has brought traumatic brain injury back into the news. Traumatic brain injury has become one of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, offered an explanation in a past story, which we've reposted here:
It’s called “traumatic brain injury” or TBI. It’s a blow, jolt or penetration to the head that can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. It can happen anywhere and at anytime – during a fall, car crash or even rough sports. Concussions are a milder form of TBI.
One of the biggest causes are unexpected blasts from improvised explosive devices or IED’s. Their sheer force can literally rock the brain, even when wearing a helmet. The skull strikes a hard surface and the brain goes back and forth, like jello wiggling, and then begins to bruise from the swelling.
It’s important to remember that there’s a broad range of severity for TBI. Common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, sleep disorders, nausea or memory problems. In mild cases, a traumatic brain injury may present as headaches or occasional dizziness. More severe cases can involve complete memory loss, personality changes or even persistent vegetative state.
Today, the Army checks soldiers before and after deployment to identify TBI cases. But unlike an obviously severed limb, traumatic brain injuries are difficult to diagnose, sometimes only noticeable years after leaving the battlefield.
Unfortunately, there is no one way to treat TBI. Recovery depends on the severity of the case and varies from person to person.
Everything from talk therapy to rehabilitation to the use of drugs to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety are used. The good news is that mild cases often require little more than rest and over-the counter pain reliever.