An Article by Lishamarie Hunter

Women are taking on more combat roles in today’s Armed Forces. With those more demanding positions they are experiencing an increase in Traumatic Brain Injuries. Service members sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) during their day to day activities, training and deployments. Most are considered minor TBI/concussions. Data suggests that over the last 18 years the armed forces has sustained over 383,947 TBIs. The various classification are penetrating (5,215), severe (4,067), moderate (37,424), Mild (315,897), and not classified (21,344).

Out of the various branches the Army has had the majority of injuries. (12 Aug 2020). The different categories of TBI are as follows: Penetrating TBI occurs when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. Moderate TBI is caused when the brain moves within the skull and collides with the bone, often times referred as shaken baby syndrome, This occurs when the brain bangs back and forth against the skull. Symptoms from the TBI are but not limited to: Loss of consciousness, state of confusion, loss of memory, and feeling dazed (2020).

The differences between woman and men are not only emotional but physiological. Trauma between the two genders are experienced differently, and have very different effects on effects and recovery. While the reality is there needs to be much more research done on how women react, respond and recover from these traumas, in particular concussions or traumatic brain injuries, also know as TBI’s. It was during the research that scientists found that the data was skewed because they lacked information that specific to gender. During the research process they learned that 95 percent of the data collected were from male service members. When researchers paired 49 males and female service members, they noticed that sex does have more effects on TBI, and women were affected more cognitively from the trauma to the brain (11 August 2020).

What role does gender play in brain injuries? Woman are more likely to report a head injury. Woman’s necks are not as strong as a male’s neck, which would account for a moderate brain injury. Women’s symptom sometime look like another illness vomiting, nausea, headache, or drowsiness (August, 2020). They found that women sustained more work related concussions, with more severe symptoms and a longer recovery period than their male counterparts. Men were more aggressive after a head injury, and women were more likely to die from it.

Why is this? Women are not educated about brain injuries, they are unprepared for the time it take to completely recovery from the injuries. Equipment does not usually fit well, helmets are typically too large for their heads. The research data has prompted the military to develop more form fitted equipment for females serving our Armed Forces.

The Pink Concussion Organization is very pro active in the prevention, research and recovery of TBI’s. This group is affiliated with the Veterans Affairs. They are funded by donations. This organization has made great stride in providing information on the major research and its outcome in the Traumatic Brian Injury Field of medicine, and provide a number of educational presentation to present the latest findings.

Colantonio, A. Ph.D, and Mollayeva, T. M.D. Ph.D. 2019. Sex, Gender, and Traumatic Brain Injury: Implications for Better Science and Practice. Retrieved: 10 August 2020.
U.S, Department of Defense, (2018) How many Service Members Have Sustained a TBI? Retrieved: 10 August 2020.
Walter, Kenny, 20 February 2020. Females Underrepresented in Traumatic Brain Injury Studies. Retrieved: 11 August 2020.

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