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Effects of TBI

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Effects of TBI

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Motor vehicle crashes. Blasts and explosions. Falls.

Many events can deliver a blow or jolt to your head, potentially causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In fact, between 2000 and 2017, the Department of Defense reported more than 375,000 diagnosed cases of TBI among members of the U.S. armed forces around the world.

The brain affects how you think; how you feel; how you act. So a TBI can affect your physical functions, thinking abilities, behaviors, and more. The injury can range from mild to severe, and it may increase your risk for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as sleeping problems.

A traumatic brain injury can result from:

  • A blow to your head by an object, such as a fist during a fight
  • Your head striking an object, such as the inside of a vehicle during a crash
  • The impact to your head of a nearby blast or explosion

Most TBI injuries are considered mild, but even mild cases can involve serious long-term effects on areas such as thinking ability, memory, mood, and mental focus. Common symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Hearing problems
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in your sense of taste or smell
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Repeating yourself
  • Becoming easily angry or frustrated

While most people with mild TBI have symptoms that resolve within hours, days, or weeks, a minority may experience persistent symptoms that last for several months or longer.


Veterans who use VA health care must undergo mandatory TBI screening if they served in combat operations. The four-question screen identifies Veterans who were exposed to events that increase the risk for TBI and have symptoms that may be related to that specific event or events. VA providers discuss the results of the comprehensive evaluations with the Veteran and recommend follow-on care with primary care and other specialty providers, as necessary.

In Veterans’ own words

Veterans who have experienced TBI talk about their experiences. Listen as they describe the signs and symptoms of TBI and its effects on their families. By reaching out for help, they were able to overcome these obstacles and live better lives.

View more videos on Make the Connection.

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