Fort Gordon kicking off TBI Awareness Month

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and Fort Gordon is spreading the word about the silent wound that has affected hundreds of thousands of soldiers since 2004.

One of those soldiers was SPC. Jean Bermudez. He was deployed to Afghanistan in the spring of 2013, until a nine millimeter bullet struck him and changed his life.

"Ever since, I've been having headaches and have a hard time remembering things," he said.

SPC. Bermudez found out he was suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury, commonly known as a TBI.

David Wilkie, EAMC Chief of Neuroscience and Rehabilitation said,"Typically, it's a mild traumatic brain injury. There's a temporary disruption in how well the brain works due to some force to the head."

Wilkie said nationwide, 240 thousand soldiers have been diagnosed with a TBI since 2004. He said cases vary, but patients often have trouble thinking, sleeping and balancing.

SPC. Bermudez says he's had all of that and has had to retrain his brain with rehab at the EAMC Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic.

"We tread in water, do exercises in the morning, jog in place and do exercises in the morning," he said.

Wilkie said the brain knows how to recover, but it's a process

Wilkie said, "Get 8 hours of sleep a night, do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day and work your brain."

Officials said most TBI's are considered mild. More happen at home than on the battle field.

Symptoms of TBI can last for days or even years.