Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. The impact on a person and his or her family can be devastating.

It has often been referred to as the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.  However, the events that can cause this injury have been present in every conflict.

What are the effects?

Traumatic brain injury can be mild to severe. Mild traumatic brain injury refers to brief changes in or loss of consciousness. Severe traumatic brain injury refers to longer periods of unconsciousness and memory loss around the event. While it may be easier to diagnose moderate to severe injuries, changes caused by any injury could significantly affect many areas of a person’s life.

Traumatic brain injury can result in changes in someone’s physical functioning, thinking abilities, and behaviors. These effects sometimes cause other difficulties such as sleeping problems, depression, and anxiety.

Physical effects may include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Trouble hearing
  • Loss of energy
  • Change in sense of taste or smell
  • Dizziness or trouble with balance

Cognitive effects may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble with attention
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Repeating things

Behavioral effects may include:

  • Becoming angry easily
  • Getting frustrated easily
  • Acting without thinking


Resources to Explore

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
This website provides Veterans, Service members, and their families with TBI educational materials and information on care coordination and research.

Polytrauma/TBI System of Care
The VA Polytrauma System of Care provides comprehensive care and tailored rehabilitation for Veterans and returning Service members with TBI and other injuries to more than one physical region or organ system of the body.
Take an online symptom management assessment to evaluate how you are handling your TBI symptoms and hear from other Veterans and Service members dealing with TBI.

Vet Centers
If you are a combat Veteran or possibly experienced head injury during your military service, bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist—many of whom are Veterans themselves—for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA.

Outreach Center for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Support
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) has established an Outreach Center to provide TBI resources to Veterans and others. The Center can provide personalized information about symptoms and recommend resources in your area.

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
This website will allow you to search for VA programs located near you. If you are eligible to receive care through the Veterans Health Administration, you can enroll in one of VA’s TBI treatment programs.