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By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT


A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.7 million people are diagnosed with a brain injury each year. While most people assume that the chances of sustaining a TBI are highest amongst those service members who serve in combat, the statistics show that these injuries most often occur from the following- car accidents, falls, sports, assault, discharge of weapons, and impact with objects.

Once a person sustains a TBI, the signs and symptoms can vary widely. Some may be very subtle while others are obvious. For Chief Petty Officer Brian O’Rourke, the signs and symptoms of his injuries were frustrating and confusing, but not necessarily easy to pinpoint. His wife started to notice some differences in Brian – his sleep habits changed, he was more anxious, and it was hard for him to deal with simple tasks. Brian’s wife recalls attempting to keep everything very normal and upbeat although she was not sure why he was so different. Brian also noticed some differences within himself, but initially felt that it was everyone else who had the problem. After being told by his wife and several friends that they had noticed a difference in him over a two-year period, Brian finally sought help.

Below is a video capturing Brian’s experience with TBI and the ways in which it impacted his family.

While Brian’s experience is unique because it is the story of his family’s personal journey with TBI, the story of their struggle is one that is familiar to many families. There are so many wonderful resources available on Traumatic Brain Injury, including A Head for the Future: A Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center Initiative (DVBIC). DVBIC provides resources to help the military community prevent, recognize, and recover from Traumatic Brain Injury.

If you are interested in learning more about TBI and its effects on families, please join us on Thursday, May 18 at 11 am Eastern for Gray Matters: Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury’s Impact on Families

This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, Social Media and Programming Coordination Specialist for OneOp. The OneOp team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about OneOp on our Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Image: Photo from Pixabay [Drop of Water by FelixMittermeier, 2017, CCO]