As combat troops return home from the battlefield, many are heading straight to the exam room - for brain testing. It's part of the military's effort to better understand and treat head injuries. The efforts are welcomed by San Diego's military research and medical communities.
"Post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, they're invisible. You can't see them and yet an awful lot of people are struggling with them and we know that now, " said Heidi Kraft, Ph.D. Kraft is a former Navy psychologist currently treating troops with combat trauma.
Over the past year, more than 150-thousand troops have been tested prior to their deployments. Those who've suffered concussions or head injuries will get follow up tests.
The testing includes basic math, matching numbers and symbols and identifying patterns to measure response time and accuracy.
"Treatment for mild traumatic brain injury is just starting," said Chris Johnson, Ph.D. Johnson is a combat researcher for the Navy. He's hopeful treatment for brain injury will mirror the success of treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.
"We know where we want to go and we've made some tremendous progress in the area of PTSD. I think because the issue of traumatic brain injury is so new, that we can hopefully expect similar gains," said Johnson.
Johnson and Kraft are also hopeful treatment and education will reduce any stigma for those worried combat stress injuries could be potential career enders.