The role head trauma plays in the mental health of police officers is just now being studied. Most officers have not been diagnosed with concussions or TBI's but have had their “bell rung” countless times many of those times there have been no symptoms. Those hits are known as nonconcussive which all add up. Mental health professionals have not looked at symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, sleep disturbances (particularly insomnia) from a comorbidity standpoint and vice versa. We know that concussions have behavioral effects on people like personality changes as well as mood changes like depression, anxiety, mood swings, and even suicidality. Cognitive changes can also take place like memory impairment, executive functioning, and even dementia. These are just a few symptoms that many clinicians look at in the mental health arena only. From the pilot study done through the members of Texas Municipal Police Association, there is a statistically high percentage of officers diagnosed with PTSD that have a history of the type of head trauma. Head trauma can be from contact sports, motor vehicles, ATVs, horse or boating accidents. Officers don't think about violent encounters with suspects, foot chases, abandoned building searches, duty during inclement weather, officer/civilian rescues, hazardous condition scenarios, firearms training, and baton training to just name a few. Those working in specialty units like SWAT are exposed to flashbangs aka "concussion grenades". Recent research shows it is the number of head impacts that is correlated with the odds and severity of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) NOT concussions and TBI's. What we know is " the Brain Keeps Score™". What’s important is there is help. Please call CopLine if you want to speak with a retired officer or reach out to:
The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) HelpLine which provides personalized support for anyone navigating the outcomes of head injury. Contact the CLF HelpLine team to receive expert medical and mental health provider recommendations, educational resources, and peer support connections.
Please watch these two videos and think about how this applies to officers before, during, and after their careers in law enforcement. Understanding the role head injuries play in law enforcement officers can help explain their mental health issues, sleep disturbances, impulse control issues, substance use sms abuse as well mood swings, and cognitive difficulties. It is believed that many of the officers that die by suicide had CTE but it wasn’t diagnosed because their brains were not autopsied and the Tao Protein was not looked for. We can reduce law enforcement suicides by understanding, treating, and putting protocols in place starting at the beginning of every law enforcement officer's career. We also need to make sure all psychologists, social workers, and mental health clinicians have incorporated a thorough Head Injury Assessment Intake form into their private practice.
For more information on Brain Donation please go to that link on our website
For more information on finding a specialist in head injuries please go to the link on our website for The Concussion Legacy Foundation and fill out the form on their helpline page