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Coping with brain injuries

October 09, 2009

Re "War injury leads to advances at home," Oct. 5

It's a national tragedy that so many of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering brain injuries. Only now is public attention being focused on this serious disability. As you report, an estimated 2% of Americans have brain injuries severe enough to affect their lives.

In addition to head trauma, strokes create brain injuries, and heart attacks, fevers and infectious diseases can cause brain damage. Medical treatment, rehabilitation and therapies help considerably during the immediate aftermath of a brain injury, but then a person must go home and face a lifetime of adjustment.

Considerable help is available from a number of fine nonprofit organizations. Ventura, Orange, Santa Barbara and San Diego counties, especially, have long-established, beneficial groups.

Brain injury lasts a lifetime, but progress can be made with good therapy, diligent care, love, patience and great determination.

David Wilk

Ventura

The writer is the president of the nonprofit Brain Injury Center of Ventura County.

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When will we learn that prevention is better than a "cure," which too often eludes us? Is there not a better way to prevent tragedy and use the many dollars it costs to maintain a brain-injured disabled veteran?

Wouldn't it be wiser to prevent the hundreds of thousands of military brain injuries by stopping wars and put all the national scientific resources and know-how into research to prevent and treat all brain injuries?

Tanja Winter

La Jolla

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As the mother of a brain-injured son, I very much appreciated the article. As your writer pointed out, brain injury among the civilian population is a silent epidemic. As diagnoses and acute care become more effective, thanks to the advances by the military, fewer patients die. What has drawn less attention is the lack of therapies and treatment for those dealing with the fallout of their injuries.

Like many brain-injured people, my 19-year-old son, who fell off a skateboard without a helmet, grapples with anger, impulsiveness and cognitive processing.

But once his acute rehabilitation was finished, we were pretty much on our own to figure out how to help him move forward with his life in a safe and productive way.

Joan Ryan Ross

San Francisco

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