Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

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

Image of 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).

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...

Publication
Feb 23, 2024

Assessment and Management of Dizziness and Visual Disturbances Following Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

.PDF | 1.03 MB

This clinical recommendation provides medical staff with a single, comprehensive reference for the assessment and management of dizziness and visual disturbances following mild TBI/concussion. Dizziness and visual disturbances often present with overlapping symptoms and should prompt a provider to perform a visual and dizziness—or vestibular—assessment.

Publication
Feb 23, 2024

Progressive Return to Activity: Primary Care for Acute Concussion Management

.PDF | 472.50 KB

This clinical recommendation is an evidence-based return to activity protocol for primary care managers and concussion/traumatic brain injury clinic providers. The PRA is a six-step approach that begins after the provider performs the MACE 2 (Military Acute Concussion Evaluation 2) and the patient is diagnosed with a concussion, also known as a mild TBI.

Publication
Dec 14, 2023

March 22, 2024, TBICoE QES Event: Prolonged Field Medicine and TBI

.PDF | 220.63 KB

A challenge of modern-day warfare is determining the course of care when a battlefield injury results in traumatic brain injury. Join the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence for a discussion on TBI care in austere environments.

Publication
Dec 14, 2023

2024 TBICoE Quarterly Education Series Schedule

.PDF | 209.46 KB

Save the dates with a complete 2024 schedule of the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence's Quarterly Education Series. The QES is an enterprise-wide learning opportunity for Military Health System stakeholders. Since inception, the QES provides trainings and education events that are relevant to the MHS, discussing specialty topics and current ...

Publication
Dec 4, 2023

Acute Concussion Care Pathway: MACE 2 and PRA Training Flier

.PDF | 228.63 KB

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence is hosting a combined Military Acute Concussion Evaluation and Progressive Return to Activity clinical recommendation virtual training. Attendees may earn two CEUs through the Defense Health Agency Continuing Education Program Office. Download the flier for the complete 2024 training schedule.

Publication
Nov 29, 2023

TBICoE's Low-Level Blast Research Efforts Infographic

.PDF | 2.12 MB

This infographic illustrates TBICoE's work to better understand how low-level blast influences warfighter brain health. These efforts directly support Line of Effort 2 of the Warfighter Brain Health Initiative.

Publication
Sep 29, 2023

TBICoE Research Review: Mild TBI and PTSD

.PDF | 435.28 KB

This research review provides an in-depth summary of the available clinical research on the topic of co-morbid mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Specifically, this review will address symptoms, anatomy, diagnosis, and treatment of mild TBI, PTSD, and the unique circumstances associated with the presentation of both.

Publication
Sep 29, 2023

Mild TBI and PTSD Clinical Pearls

.PDF | 924.82 KB

TBICoE's "Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Pearls," is a new supplemental product to the detailed research review. This resource is designed to be brief and provide key actionable “clinical pearls” that should be considered in the treatment of service members with comorbid mild TBI and PTSD.

Publication
Jun 16, 2023

Neurodegenerative Diseases and Traumatic Brain Injury Information Paper

.PDF | 310.80 KB

The long term effects of TBI are unknown, but there is concern that there may be an association with neurodegenerative diseases years after the injury. The intention of this information paper is to summarize the available evidence for or against an association of TBI with three of the more common neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication
Apr 7, 2023

2022 TBICoE Publication Catalog

.PDF | 577.80 KB

TBICoE publication citations and summaries are organized by category, or overarching research topic. The purpose of this document is to (1) summarize key findings and potential clinical implications of calendar year 2022 TBICoE publications, (2) increase awareness, and (3) assist in planning of future efforts.

Publication
Mar 17, 2023

TBICoE Research Review: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

.PDF | 1.87 MB

The purpose of this Research Review is to summarize current peer-reviewed scientific literature and expert assessment regarding the pathology, genetic pre-disposition, causes, clinical manifestations, and neuroimaging of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Publication
Mar 16, 2023

Back to School: A Guide to Academic Success After Traumatic Brain Injury

.PDF | 1.40 MB

Back to School: A Guide to Academic Success After Traumatic Brain Injury is a free resource, developed by the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence that is tailored to help service members and veterans who have sustained a TBI and are pursuing higher education. Those who have sustained a TBI may face unique challenges, and this guide provides ...

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery