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To treat traumatic brain injury in soldiers, take gender into account

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To treat traumatic brain injury in soldiers, take gender into account

Where previous studies have focused on men, Stanford researcher Odette Harris considers injury experiences of women veterans.


While serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sharron, a U.S Army sergeant, sustained a blunt force injury to the head during routine maintenance on an armored truck. Years later, the injury has left her with crippling side effects, including severe headaches, disorientation, memory loss, aggression, and irritability. These changes compromise Sharron's daily quality of life. An expectant mother, Sharron worries about the relationship she will have with her child.

Sharron is not alone in her experience of traumatic brain injury or "TBI." Indeed, this condition affects between 12 and 20 percent of returning veterans and has been a hot topic in the U.S. media. Despite the prevalence of this condition, we lack an understanding of how women like Sharron fare in comparison to men, according to Dr. Odette Harris, an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

In previous studies of veterans with TBI, researchers have focused on pooled data comprised almost entirely of men, who make up the majority of injured veterans. To fill in this research gap, Harris has studied how these injuries specifically affects women, such as Sharron.

The result? Harris identifies significant ways the consequences of TBI are manifested differently for women and men-and she uses this data to develop treatment and policy recommendations specifically tailored to women veterans.

References and further information

This article was originally produced by Stanford University. 

 

To read the rest of this article, visit the Stanford University website  http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2013/treat-traumatic-brain-injury-soldiers-take-gender-account

 

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