I’ve been looking around a lot, lately, at all sorts of different materials — in books as well as online — about how the brain and the body interact with each other. The gray mass inside our heads is getting more and more press, as people pay closer attention to the after-effects of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and hear about how so many vets are affected by TBI.
I can’t believe we had to have two wars to figure out that TBI — whether it’s open head or closed head wound, whether it’s mild or severe — can have a substantial impact on people’s lives after the fact.
I can’t believe we don’t know more about this. People have been getting hit on the head since time immemorial. Why is it we’re only starting to take it seriously now? People have been recovering from blasts for generations. Why is it that we’re only starting to study it now? What is up with us, anyway?
I am also more than a little incredulous that the human race — which is defined by its brain — doesn’t know more about this thing that everybody has. I mean, come on people. What’s taken us so long to start paying attention to this common organ of ours? And why does it take war and injury and extreme circumstances to perk up our attention sufficiently to realize we don’t know nearly enough about this thing called the human brain?
What is up with that?
I mean, so many different societal ills can be traced back to head injury — domestic violence, violence in general, social dysfunction, emotional problems, even mental illness, financial woes, crime, illness… there are just so many ways head injuries can totally screw us up, and an awful lot of people experience them — check the stats on the left side of this blog, if you’re not convinced.
Head injuries do have an impact. A big one. And as our tens of thousands of troops return from Iraq over the coming 18 months, we’re probably going to be seeing even more impact — not to mention a whole lot of PTSD fallout throughout this country. I’m trying to be hopeful, but I must say I’m worried.
I just hope we can figure out that head injuries matter, and that PTSD is something worth treating, before we have to learn too many lessons the really hard way.