A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can turn a soldier's life upside down, but with the right help, it doesn't have to be a losing battle.
Darnall Hospital's TBI Clinic is celebrating the power of recovery this Brain Injury Awareness Month.
SPC Brandon Budfuloski is a patient there.
He's re-learning how to multi-task, memorize things and even speak after two traumatic brain injuries overseas interrupted his life in a big way.
Brandon was an "A" student earning an astrophysics degree, but after an explosion in Afghanistan last September, Brandon couldn't remember simple things, like tying his shoes.
"And I found that when I came back and tried to go to school, I couldn't even finish the class," explained Brandon.
Then he came to the TBI clinic.
"They restored hope, which is a big one. I'd have to say confidence was a big one that dropped down after I realized that I couldn't hold conversations," Brandon said.
More than 260 thousand service members have been diagnosed with TBI since 2000.
Fort Hood's clinic has treated about 1 thousand in the past year.
"Once they're able to seek treatment, it totally resets their perspective of the fact that they can get better, that their future can get better, and there's help for them for the symptoms and problems that they're having," said Elizabeth Jennings, an occupational therapist at the clinic.
Treatments here range from physical therapy, to speech therapy, psychiatry and even primary care, and the best part is soldiers can get it all at one place.
"One of the big complaints is they have to run around for treatment, and they're already having pain. It makes it convenient to have it in one spot," Elizabeth said.
"They started to give me tools that I began to implement, and I was already in the middle of one of my failing classes when I started to implement them and saw a dramatic change," said Brandon.
By the way, he went from not being able to lace his boots, to acing that astrophysics course.
He couldn't have done all that without help from his family who noticed the warning signs and encouraged him to get help.
Families are often key to getting their soldiers to seek treatment.
TBI comes in many different forms.
Some symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, trouble concentrating, memory problems, and irritability.
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