VA Hospital's Poly Trauma Unit Helps Wounded Soldiers

When our soldiers go to the front lines their lives are always on the line.

When they come home injured, the VA hospitals now have a new system of trauma units to help.

"I was missing 45% of my skull," explains Erik Castillo, Army Veteran.

Castillo was injured in a mortar attack in Iraq. "Two pieces of shrapnel penetrated my skull and brain. And my back."

After close to two months in a coma, this army soldier awoke with serious injuries to many body parts.

This is what doctors call polytrauma. "I was paralyzed on my left side as well as other impairments with like thinking, memory, concentrating."

For several months Castillo has been getting therapy in the Southern Arizona VA Health Care Center's Polytrauma unit.

It's one of only 21 such units in the country.

Florence Gores, Polytrauma Unit cocoordinator says, "The signature injury of this war is traumatic brain injury. We offer them physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy."

Castillo says his therapy has made a tremendous difference.
"I couldn't read. I had to learn how to read again. And I couldn't talk."

Castillo also got emotional help. "My attitude was really bad. I was angry, just angry at everything. So I just wanted to change that. And be normal."

Just 23 years old, Castillo has most of his life ahead of him. And with the help of the VA, he says he's anxious to live it.

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