Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DHA’s TBI-focused Caregiver & Family Member Study continues at TBICoE

A husband, wife, and two children sitting at the Warrior and Family Support Center Genette Burges spends time with her husband Dan and children at the Warrior and Family Support Center at Joint Base San Antonio (Photo by: Lori Newman, Brooke Army Medical Center).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers | Patient and Family Resources | TBICoE Research | TBICoE Podcasts | A Head for the Future

For the family members of some service members or veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), caregiving is a 24/7 job. Those who live this daily life of caring for others are celebrated today with National Caregivers Day.

This may include assistance with daily activities, social interaction, and financial management. Without proper resources, these essential responsibilities can take a physical and psychological toll on the caregiver and the rest of their family.

In 2010, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, now known as the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence, launched the Caregiver and Family Member Study. This 15-Year Longitudinal TBI Study, led by TBICoE researchers at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Maryland is a congressionally mandated study that examines the effects of TBI incurred by service members. The specific focus of the study is on those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom, and how those effects impact family members.

The Caregiver and Family Member Study aims to better understand the impact of the service member’s or veteran’s TBI on their family.

Now in its eleventh year, the Caregiver and Family Member Study has found that the time commitment and burden of caregiving is correlated with physical and psychological distress, poor sleep and disrupted family life. Frequently, caregivers balance their commitments toward their service member or veteran with childcare and other work duties, often receiving no help and having little time for themselves.

Caregivers also have unmet health care and care provision needs. These unmet needs can evolve to worse caregiver health and well-being.

However, the study also highlights that not all caregivers report negative outcomes. In fact, some report high levels of satisfaction and resilience and healthy family relationships.

Respite care, support groups, financial support, access to health care and training programs are critical for caregivers to manage the burdens of caregiving and to promote the recovery of the service member or veteran. Eligible caregivers can receive these services through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Caregiver Programs.

Since launching the study, TBICoE has spearheaded several efforts to educate and support TBI caregivers, such as the development of the TBI Caregiver Quality of Life (TBI-CareQOL) Measurement System. TBICoE researchers at the NICoE plan to use measures from the TBI-CareQOL and larger Caregiver and Family Member Study as a screening tool to identify family members of NICoE patients at risk of poor health-related quality of life and in need of behavioral health care.

In addition, TBICoE’s “A Head for the Future” initiative has recorded testimonies emphasizing the need for robust TBI caregiver education and resources.

Brian O’Rourke, a retired Navy chief petty officer who sustained multiple TBIs, said, “My number one caretaker for the rest of my life is my wife, so for her to understand that I have TBI and how to help me deal with it is huge.”

TBICoE and NICoE staff anticipate that one of the overall impacts of the study is that caregivers are supported in their roles long term and their own health and welfare needs are attended to.

The TBICoE Caregiver and Family Member Study is ongoing and currently recruiting caregivers of service members and veterans with TBI and PTSD (TBI and PTSD caregivers), and parents and spouses who are not caregiving (non-caregiver military family members). Those interested in participating should contact the study leads at dha.caregiver.study@mail.mil or by phone at 855-821-1469.

To find additional resources for TBI caregivers and family members, visit the TBICoE website.

You also may be interested in...

NICoE at forefront of traumatic brain injury research and treatment

Article
5/3/2021
Picture of a mask with the American flag on one side and camo on the other side

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence is dedicated to treating and researching TBI injuries with the aim of getting patients back to maximum function.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

Intrepid Spirit Centers promote healing from traumatic brain injury

Article
3/30/2021
Military health personnel in physical therapy

Intrepid Spirit Centers help heal TBI service members’ brains with interdisciplinary program and model of care.

Recommended Content:

March Toolkit | March Toolkit | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Brain Injury Awareness Month | Brain Injury Awareness | March Toolkit

Five ways to keep your brain healthy

Article
3/30/2021
Infographic with five ways to keep your brain healthy

Five ways to keep your brain healthy

Recommended Content:

March Toolkit | March Toolkit | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | March Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness

Visual dysfunctions common in even mild TBI patients

Article
3/30/2021
Military health personnel examining a picture of an eye

Vision Center of Excellence ocular medical specialists discuss visual dysfunctions resulting from TBI.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | March Toolkit | March Toolkit | March Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness | TBI Information

Distinguishing between TBIs, psychological conditions key to treatment

Article
3/10/2021
Military personnel holding a gun

Expert says long-lasting symptoms may be a sign of another issue.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month | March Toolkit | March Toolkit | March Toolkit | TBI and Psychological Fitness

Updated tools and training improve TBI and concussion recovery

Article
3/3/2021
A group of military personnel wearing face mask working on laptop computers

Up-to-date clinical tools help diagnose and manage TBI on and off the battlefield.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBICoE Podcasts | March Toolkit | March Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Month | March Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month; TBICoE’s mission lasts all year

Article
3/2/2021
Military health personnel performing a balance test on a patient

Staying a-head of TBI

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | March Toolkit | A Head for the Future | March Toolkit | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Month | March Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness

DVBIC blood plasma study assists in TBI and PTSD diagnosis

Article
10/8/2020
Air Force Senior Airman Kristen N. Kelsey, a medical laboratory technician with the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Air Force Reserve Command, labels blood samples at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen)

Since 2000, more than 400,000 active-duty service members have been diagnosed with TBI

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence
Showing results 1 - 8 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.