Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 4, 2012 – Traumatic brain injury may play a much larger role than we realize in the troops that come back for Afghanistan.
“While the name of Robert Bales has more of less faded out of the spotlight, the issue behind what caused him to snap and kill multiple civilians is a major, ongoing question. Was it traumatic brain injury? There may be a good case that it was, as he did sustain head trauma on a previous tour of duty,” commented Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.
Bales’ lawyer has certainly brought that fact out, front and center. However, that is about the only information anyone ‘can’ find. The rest of the story is a closely guarded secret. No one knows for sure if Bales was even diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, and even if they do know he has it, it appears to be unclear how he sustained it.
While the Army is admitting they felt Bales was fit for combat, which is why he was cleared to return to duty after his head injury, they are not giving out any further information. Not even a discussion of what traumatic brain injury may entail, such as mild to temporary symptoms, or life-altering and lifelong damage.
“It is known that traumatic brain injury affects the area the controls emotions and the ability to make decisions. In an extreme case, it may result in coma and death, so it is not a black and white issue,” Schuelke added. Other common symptoms include loss of balance, sleeplessness, short-term memory problems, dizziness and changes in a soldier’s sense of smell or vision.
Statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that close to 1.7 million people live with mild brain injuries annually. Head traumas in those returning home from active duty have gone up exponentially, to the point it is now being considered as a signature injury of the wars overseas. This is largely due to the fact that brain trauma is better recognized now, and medical care has advanced significantly.
There are multiple ways to sustain traumatic brain injury while fighting a war, ranging from a penetrating head wound to the percussive waves generated by roadside bombs. In many cases, those with head trauma recover within 12 weeks. In most serious cases however, a soldier’s life may never be the same again, and they may need permanent counseling and rehabilitation.
“And thus the burning question of the day in this case, is whether or not Bales did sustain traumatic brain injury, and did it affect his mental capacity and/or cognitive abilities? Typically, traumatic brain injury does not result in someone suddenly snapping and going off the deep end. However, there is a first time for everything. This case will be interesting to watch, as it relates to traumatic brain injury and the role it may, or may not play, in criminal cases,” Schuelke remarked.
Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP
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Austin, Texas 78703-4868
Call (512) 476-4944