Brain injury has been referred to as the “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 300,000 United States Armed Forces veterans have sustained a brain injury – sometimes the result of improvised explosive devices, pictured below – just since 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom. 1 in every 10 Australian Defence Force personnel who have served in the Middle East “reported the criteria for a new mild traumatic brain injury.”Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer, Brain Injury Australia

2017’s Brain Injury Awareness Week: Brain Injury in the Military

2017’s National Brain Injury Awareness Week (August 21-28, 2017) is devoted to advancing the recognition of brain injury in the military and beyond.

Brain Injury Australia would be interested to hear from any serving or returned defence force personnel, or their families, about their experience of brain injury.

Please contact Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer via e-mail: or phone (0417) 373 622.

Personal Story: Gary Wilson – A Real-Life Hero!

Gary Wilson was one of the survivors of a Blackhawk crash in Afghanistan on 21st of June 2010 that claimed 4 lives and left 11 severely wounded. Gary’s injuries were catastrophic: crushed left foot, broken knee, broken pelvis, broken ribs, broken forearm, broken nose, broken jaw, broken tooth, and, as he likes to put it, a broken brain. Gary sustained a severe traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma for three months and in rehabilitation for three years, quite literally dragging himself from the brink of life and death just as he had when he crawled from the smoking Blackhawk wreckage.

Read more.

Brain Injury Awarness Week 2017; Brain Injury in the Military – The Use of Anti-Malarial Drugs

Brain injury in the military is usually associated with physical trauma, from blunt force applied to the head or blast exposure. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become so common among veterans that it has been called the “signature injury” of recent conflicts in the Middle East, alongside post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Australian Government’s Repatriation Medical Authority recently launched an investigation into whether anti-malarial drugs given to Australian Defence Force personnel could have caused “chemically-acquired brain injury”. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease found in 90 countries. During 2015, there were over 200 million cases of malaria recorded, resulting in 430,000 deaths.

Stuart McCarthy, pictured below, who served with the Australian Army in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia and Bougainville shares his story with Brain Injury Australia.

Stuart McCarthyRead more.

Understanding Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in the Military Health System (2016) (US)

  • “This report is the first of its kind to describe the characteristics of non-deployed active duty service members who have received a mTBI [mild Traumatic Brain Injury] diagnosis, their co-occurring symptoms and conditions, the locations where they received care, the types of treatment and medications they received, and the duration and patterns of their care.”


Key findings:

  • Service members who received treatment for a new mTBI [mild Traumatic Brain Injury] diagnosis in 2012 tended to be young and junior enlisted.
  • Most service members appeared to recover quickly following their mTBI diagnosis, but a minority had complex and persistent care needs.
  • Most service members with a new mTBI diagnosis were diagnosed in an emergency department and had their next health care visit in a primary care setting.

Research on Brain Injury in the Military

Exploring the Relationship Between Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Exposure and the Presence and Severity of Postconcussive Symptoms Among Veterans Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (2015)

This study found that Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans with mTBI had more disabilities in thinking, emotion, and bodily functioning, which were also more severe, than veterans with no mTBI, 4.8 years after the mTBI event(s).


Multiple traumatic brain injury and concussive symptoms among deployed military personnel (2013)

“Patients with one or more previous TBIs were more likely to report concussion symptoms immediately following a recent injury and during the evaluation.”


Learn more…

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