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Navy SEAL’s Battle Spotlights TBI Crisis

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The story of a Navy SEAL, who believed blasts had harmed his brain, highlights the military’s ongoing battle with TBIs. Years and a related mass shooting later, effective solutions and thorough assessments are still out of reach.

Former Navy SEAL Ryan Larkin ended his own life due to his battle with TBIs. His father, Frank, also a SEAL, actively advocates for the military to better recognize and treat brain injuries. “He suffered injury, not insanity,” Frank asserts, pushing for increased awareness of TBIs.

The military struggles to diagnose and treat TBIs from combat blasts. Imaging expert Dr. James Stone says our clinical TBI assessment is still very basic: “We’re at an infant stage.”

The military has long grappled with TBI issues. The Defense Department recorded over 492,000 TBIs, mostly mild, between 2000 and 2023. Yet, this number probably undercounts the actual incidence, overlooking injuries from continuous low-level blasts and multiple TBIs.

Efforts to tackle TBIs include a Pentagon report urging better blast risk guidance and the Army’s aim to track exposed personnel. But progress is slow, says Frank Larkin, deeming it “unacceptable” given over two decades of conflict.

Ryan Larkin’s story and military TBIs spotlight the need for better perception, diagnosis, and treatment. With TBIs possibly linked to violence, an urgent need for advanced, empathetic approaches arises. The military and medical community must ensure proper care for those silently enduring TBIs’ harsh toll.

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