Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) found that only 1 in 5 veterans reported receiving brain injury education while serving in the military. The rese
archers, whose findings were published this week in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, believe a lack of accurate knowledge could lead to misdiagnosis or misinterpretation due to the many symptoms that can overlap among brain injury and other conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and chronic pain.
student with the UAB Department of Psychology. “In the case of a veteran who sustains a brain injury, for example, they may be deemed to be disabled instead of integrating back into their community and their job. That direction of treatment may not look at encouraging ways to give them their life back.”
The study looked at 100 veterans and 50 of their friends or family. It found that both groups were able to correctly identify symptoms associated with mild brain injury. However, both groups endorsed numerous symptoms that are not typical of such injuries.
“It is just as important that patients and their support system are able to recognize not only what a brain injury is, but also what it is not,” Block said. “Improved knowledge
will mean fewer frustrations for both groups, better care overall and a brighter outlook for veterans.”
The first known study of brain injury knowledge, published in 1988, revealed that 42 percent of people believed a second blow to one’s head could actually help restore memory. Block says her team’s work in 2012 reveals misinformation about brain injuries has not decreased during the past 24 years despite increased education initiatives.
There are websites with a wealth of information, like the Defense Centers of Excellence, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Yet the UAB study shows 80 percent of the veterans with whom they worked, and 79 percent of a group of family or friends, said they did not go to the Internet for more information.
In fact, the study revealed that both groups turned to a different channel for knowledge.
Inaccurate portrayals of brain injury in the popular media could potentially contribute to distorted beliefs about brain injury symptoms and recovery, as well as about survivors of brain injury themselves, if they are not countered by accurate information.“Unfortunately, much of what they knew was based on what they witnessed on shows like Dr. Oz, Grey’s Anatomy and House,” said Block. “They have access to the VA and healthcare providers, yet the majority gets information from movies and TV dramas.”
These findings come in the wake of a recent push by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to increase traumatic brain injury (TBI) knowledge and awareness.
“A mild brain injury is significant, but when armed with the proper information, diagnosis and treatment, these individuals should expect to get back to work, back to school and back to a good quality of life,” Block said.
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Professor of Psychology David Schwebel, Ph.D., will receive the 2013 Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction. Schwebel, who is also the College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean for Research in the Sciences, specializes in understanding and preventing child and adolescent unintentional injury. In his role as Director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab, he conducts laboratory-based studies of factors that lead to child and adolescent injury. His laboratory also conducts injury prevention research in various community settings in Birmingham and around the world.
"I have won various awards from national and international professional groups, but to be honored by your own colleagues, at your own university, is really special," states Dr. Schwebel. "It's particularly so when the decision committee is interdisicplinary and recognizes the value of one's own science amidst the context of the broader university, community, and world."
“Associate Dean Schwebel is the perfect fit for this prestigious award and represents all that Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland envisioned when they generously endowed this prize, “says Interim Dean Robert E. Palazzo. “His sense of compassion and the results of his scholarship will lead to safer conditions for children and adolescents everywhere.”
The Ireland Prize recognizes faculty that contribute to the elevation of the arts and sciences at UAB. Awardees of the Ireland Prize gain prestigious recognition from their peers and demonstrate talents that contribute to the reputation of UAB.
About The College of Arts and Sciences
The UAB College of Arts and Sciences is home to academic disciplines that include the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural and social sciences. The college’s unique structure advances research and learning in higher education, and its’ courses are taught by a world-class faculty. Committed to the UAB spirit of independence and innovation, the college enables students to design their own majors, participate in undergraduate research, or complete graduate degrees on a five-year fast track. Through productive partnerships, flexible curricula and a bold, interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, the college is preparing students for success in the ever-changing global environment.
Students from across the state converged in Montgomery to draft bills and debate legislation at the Alabama YMCA Collegiate Legislature Conference. UAB representatives received several honors and were elected to leadership roles for next year’s convention:
Jacob Ledbetter, a 20-year-old economics major from Cullman, won “Best Bill” in the senate.
Chapin Cavender, a 19-year-old physics major from Dallas, TX, was voted “Best Delegate” from UAB.
Ali Massoud, a 19-year-old international studies and French major from Cairo, Egypt, was elected president pro-temp for the senate.
Allie Phifer, a 19-year-old theater and psychology major from Hoover, was elected floor leader for the house.
Andrew Metzler, an 18-year-old health care management major from Oneonta, was elected as UAB’s school representative.
MaryRose Kammer, a 19-year-old biomedical engineering major from Madison, was elected as UAB’s school representative.
Students interested in participating in next year’s conference or learning more about UAB’s Undergraduate Student Government Association should visit www.uab.edu/usga.
Written By: Marie Sutton
- Update on CAS Dean Search
- UAB’s UNCF/Merck Scholarship Winners Connected by Chemistry
- Ingrid Pfau Named Runner-up at 2013 Neuro Film Festival
- The Earth has Another CO2 Problem
- Marching Blazers Win International Band Competition in Ireland
- UAB Cybersecurity Program's Success Leads to Spin Off Company