BAT-L uses new forensic interviewing techniques to assess TBI in post-9/11 veterans | VA Boston Health Care


Mild traumatic brain injury is not visible, not easily identified, and is often overlooked.

“Perceived stigma, a badass mentality, privacy issues, and a commitment to mission can all contribute to underreporting,” said Dr. Sahra Kim, research psychologist at the VA Boston Healthcare System and lead author. from a recent diagnostic accuracy study of the Boston Assessment of Traumatic Brain Injury-Lifetime, known as BAT-L, clinical interview versus military medical records. “The under-documentation of head injuries may be due to a combination of under-reporting, the co-occurrence of other serious injuries requiring more immediate attention, or combat-related factors that make it difficult to prioritize documentation – mission and team safety may be a higher priority than concussion assessment protocols, for example.

The TRACTS National Center for TBI at the VA Boston HCS has demonstrated that the BAT-L, a retrospective clinical interview using forensic interviewing techniques, is able to accurately diagnose deployment-related head injuries months or even years , after their occurrence. Given the lack of documentation of military service for many of the reasons explained above, the tool may be essential to the health and well-being of post-9/11 veterans.

VA provides treatment and care for veterans with TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries and health conditions. Depending on their needs, veterans with TBI may receive treatment at one of the VA Polytrauma System of Care’s specialized rehabilitation programs or through their local VA, including VA Boston HCS. TRACTS also offers curated rehabilitation options based on lessons learned from more than a decade of research. Contact the TRACTS recruiting sergeant. Wally Musto at 617-799-8617 to learn more.

Treatments for TBI focus on the symptoms that cause most problems in daily life. These treatments may include medication; learning strategies to deal with health, cognitive and behavioral problems; rehabilitative therapies, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy; and assistive devices and technologies. Ask your VA health care team for more information.

More information on research into the diagnostic accuracy of BAT-L is available at


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