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Brain Wars

Five soldiers injured in the same 2009 bomb blast are a case study in a new epidemic among America's troops, who are grappling with a combination of concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder. More »

Tricare, which covers nearly 4 million troops and military retirees, denies coverage of cognitive rehabilitation to traumatic brain injury victims, despite consensus from medical specialists who say it improves the quality of life. More »

The military medical system is failing to diagnose brain injuries in tens of thousands of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them receive little or no treatment for lingering health problems, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR has found. More »

Even when traumatic brain injury is diagnosed in soldiers, treatment can be hard to come by. At Fort Bliss, Texas, a building to screen for such injuries remains closed nearly a year after its completion. More »

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Army Study Finds Troops Suffer Concussions in Training

Brain specialists say Army's training may make soldiers more vulnerable to head injuries on the battlefield.

Aftershock: The Blast That Shook Psycho Platoon

Five soldiers injured in the same 2009 bomb blast are a case study in a new epidemic among America's troops, who are grappling with a combination of concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder.

One Soldier’s Progress Against Traumatic Brain Injury

With the help of virtual-reality machines and a bevy of specialists, Sgt. Victor Medina's thinking and speaking rapidly improved. But he's among only a tiny fraction of brain-injured soldiers who get access to the most advanced treatment at military's new state-of-the-art center in Maryland.

New Technologies in the Works to Detect Brain Injuries

Handheld devices and blood tests that could give medical personnel quick, reliable ways to test for concussions in the field are advancing, but remain a few years away.

Military Still Struggling to Treat Troops With Brain Injuries

Defense Department leaders and lawmakers have taken steps to improve the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries since ProPublica and NPR began a two-year investigation, but progress remains incremental.

Senator Wants Answers on Program to Test Soldiers for Brain Injuries

Sen. Claire McCaskill has requested a briefing from the military on its troubled neurological testing program.

Congressman Slams Military Brain-Testing Program

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., sought support to fix the military’s cognitive testing program following a ProPublica and NPR report on the issue earlier this week.

Testing Program Fails Soldiers, Leaving Brain Injuries Undetected

Faced with a congressional mandate to use computerized testing to detect brain injuries, the military chose an unproven test and then botched its implementation.

Gov’t Watchdog Criticizes Pentagon Center for PTSD, Brain Injuries

The Pentagon’s Defense Centers of Excellence are plagued by management weakness and obscure finances, according to recent Government Accountability Office reports.

More Than Half of Recent War Vets Treated by VA Are Struggling With Mental Health Problems

Pressure increases on the military to improve mental health care as new data shows that 51 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are treated by the VA for psychological problems, up from 20 percent in 2004.

New Survey: Few Troops Exposed to Bomb Blasts Are Screened For Concussion

Only about 1 in 5 soldiers and Marines say they have been tested to determine if they have suffered brain injuries. Military officials hope the numbers will improve now that a new policy is in place.

Critical Shortage of Army Neurologists for U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

A military memorandum says that new requirements for diagnosing and treating brain injury has resulted in a shortage of Army neurologists on battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Timeline: How One Blast Affected Five Soldiers

Army Plans New Guidelines to Resolve Denials of Purple Hearts to Brain-Injured Soldiers

The Army’s move comes in response to an investigation published last September by ProPublica and NPR that revealed some soldiers had been wrongly denied the medal despite regulations that made them eligible for it.

A Partial Victory in Our FOIA Request—But Government Still Hasn’t Provided All the Records

ProPublica and NPR continue to pursue a Freedom of Information Act request for the reviews of a Tricare study that found that cognitive rehabilitation was not very effective.

Scientific Review Kicks Off to Weigh Treatment for Brain-Injured Soldiers

The National Institutes of Medicine convened the first of what's expected to be a series of public panels to help determine whether cognitive rehabilitation therapy could help heal troops who suffered traumatic brain injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq.

More Than 70 Members of Congress Demand Cognitive Treatment for Troops With Traumatic Brain Injuries

Citing an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, 74 members of Congress have signed a letter demanding that Tricare, the Pentagon’s health plan, provide treatment for troops with traumatic brain injuries.

Congress to Investigate Pentagon Decision to Deny Coverage for Brain Injured Troops

Sen. Claire McCaskill's committee wants to examine a contract between Tricare, the Pentagon's health plan, and ECRI Institute, which found insufficient evidence to support cognitive rehabilitation therapy.

American Legion Pushes For Coverage of Treatment for Troops With Brain Injuries

Citing an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, the nation’s largest veterans group is demanding that Tricare, the Pentagon’s health plan, pay for cognitive rehabilitation therapy

Pentagon Told Congress It’s Studying Brain-Damage Therapy

The Pentagon told Congress last month that it was studying the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation therapy for brain-injured soldiers.

For Brain-Injured Soldiers, Top Quality Care From a Philanthropist, not the Pentagon

Project Share, started by philanthropist Bernie Marcus, offers cognitive therapy rehabilitation to brain-injured troops -- care the Pentagon's Tricare health plan won't pay for.

Pentagon Health Plan Won’t Cover Brain-Damage Therapy for Troops

Tricare, which covers nearly 4 million troops and military retirees, denies coverage of cognitive rehabilitation to traumatic brain injury victims, despite consensus from medical specialists who say it improves the quality of life.

How Our FOIA Request Was Blocked, and Why We’re Still Pursuing It

ProPublica and NPR are still pursuing a Freedom of Information Act request for the reviews of the Tricare study that found that cognitive rehabilitation was not very effective.

Troubles Plague Top Job at Pentagon Office Overseeing Brain Injuries

The director of the Pentagon's program to oversee the treatment of troops with brain injuries has been transferred while under investigation for alleged sexual harassment.

Congresswoman Calls for Review of Purple Heart Decisions

A House Armed Services Committee member says soldiers with concussions should be recognized if they meet the Army’s criteria.

Pentagon Spokesman Wrong on Purple Heart

An error, though soon corrected, shows confusion about medals for soldiers with brain trauma.

Soldiers With Brain Trauma Denied Purple Hearts, Adding Insult to Injury

Soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries are finding that it's hard to have the injury recognized with a Purple Heart.

Fact Sheet: Traumatic Brain Injury

Rep. Teague Pledges Deeper Inquiry Into Treatment for Brain-Injured Soldiers

Rep. Harry Teague promises to dramatically expand an inquiry into the treatment of soldiers who have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries.

Fort Bliss Says It Will Examine Its Handling of Brain Injuries

After soldiers' reports of problems, officials at Fort Bliss tell a congressman that they will review the base's care for traumatic brain injuries.

Pentagon Shifts Its Story About Departure of Leader of Brain Injury Center

The Pentagon alters its explanation for why the leader of the center responsible for treating traumatic brain injuries sustained by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan stepped down.

Pentagon Issues New Policy for Diagnosing and Treating Brain Injuries

The new rules require rest periods and enhanced tracking for soldiers exposed to blasts.

Leader of Military’s Program to Treat Brain Injuries Steps Down Abruptly

After criticism of her program's work, an Army general resigns as the director of a center that focuses on troops' brain injuries.

Congress Questions Military Leaders on Suicides, Traumatic Brain Injury

Congress Demands Answers on Brain Injury Care at Texas Base

Medical officials at Fort Bliss are being questioned about soldiers' frustrations in getting treatment for concussions.

Soldier Brain Injuries to Get Senate Scrutiny After ProPublica, NPR Report

Responding to our investigation, a Senate hearing will be expanded to include discussing soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries.

Top Officer Says Military Takes Brain Injuries ‘Extremely Seriously’

The Army's vice chief of staff says it takes the treatment of soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries "very seriously."

At Fort Bliss, Brain Injury Treatments Can Be as Elusive as Diagnosis

Even when traumatic brain injury is diagnosed in soldiers, treatment can be hard to come by.

After Our Investigation, Pentagon Puts Its Spin on Brain Injuries

The Pentagon sent out a talking points memo that makes it sound as if it's doing all it can to treat brain injuries, which our investigation says is not the case.

Brain Injuries Remain Undiagnosed in Thousands of Soldiers

The military has failed to diagnose brain injuries in tens of thousands of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Traumatic Brain Injury in Theater: When Blasts Damage the Brain

Soldiers are surviving explosions that would have killed them in previous wars, but some are left with permanent wounds.

Have You Suffered From a Mild TBI?

Did you or a loved one suffer a mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) while serving? ProPublica and NPR want to hear your story. Tell us about your experiences with TBI.

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