Veterans

Veterans With Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries Not Getting Help Needed, MPs Told

The MPs were told that veterans are often "left in a washing machine system" or a "revolving doors system".

Some veterans living with brain injuries sustained during service are being driven to suicide because they are not getting the help needed, a leading expert has said.

Mandy Bostwick, a specialist trauma psychotherapist, made the comments to the Defence Select Committee during a discussion on Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries among ex-service personnel.

"I’ve had, over the last several years since I’ve been looking at this now, seen men who have taken their own lives as a result of this," she said.

She explained that veterans are often "left in a washing machine system" or a "revolving doors system", receiving "misdiagnosis" and "mis-medication" which impedes their condition and makes them worse.

The committee also heard that despite calls for more research into the effects of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries more than two years ago, no progress has been made.

"There’s been absolutely no progress," Ms Bostwick said.

"In looking at the history of this, as I said earlier, it was psychiatry that still dominates this area of the work, when they have no right, actually, to be in this area.

"This is the world of neurology and it is neurology that should be taking this forward.

It is feared the lack of suitable diagnoses among veterans means many are not getting the support they need."

Similar to cases of mental health issues, it can have a devastating effect if the right treatment is not offered to those who have brain injuries.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is caused by trauma to the head which results in a disruption to brain function.

Trauma deriving from explosions or even from shoulder-fired weapons can cause long-term behavioural changes.

Professor Gary Green from the University of York said some of the "complicated" effects include migraines, mood and anxiety changes, fatigue and sleep disturbance.

A Government spokesperson said: "The health and wellbeing of UK Armed Forces is of course a priority.

"We have a dedicated treatment programme for Traumatic Brain Injuries and are leading a national civilian and military programme to take forward research into the diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of patients with the condition.

"Working closely with the NHS, we will continue to review treatment options in response to emerging evidence."