Garth Hardin and SCOTOMAVILLE Veteran TBI


I have a friend who is fascinating to be around. Let's call him Garth. He's jovial, handsome, and a really nice guy. He's into fitness and nutrition. He's roughly 42, but he's still 20 in spirit. He absolutely loves riding his mountain bike through the woods.


He's in great shape and has spent years in small groups of guys for self-improvement. That's where I got to know him. He's the kind of guy that volunteers to help out on tough projects for both the challenge and comradery. That's what he loved about the Army.

Maybe you've seen Garth's look-alike making people a little uncomfortable with his loud voice and laughter - at a family get together, or in the Fellowship hall after the Sunday service. He's the guy that's a little weird, disconnected a bit, and has an unknown history.

From time-to-time, Garth would disappear for a few days, and show up with a great tale of tracking cougars through the snow and sleeping outside all night. He has a knack for both amusing and making people think twice.

I hired him a couple times to work on software projects. But, since he has periods of 'hiding out' it's tough for him to have a 'regular' job, especially in our smallish town, or when the weather is nice for riding through the woods.



He told me that one evening, marching to the chow hut in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, he fell out of line to pet a mangy dog. He woke up in a hospital. His buddies were all killed in the blast. He was 'lucky' to be sent home in one piece.



His life is tough. His hearing is kind of bad. He battles with memories and escapes to the woods. He's not married anymore. His kids are now grown, but he hasn't seen them in over a decade.

He's a great guy with a series of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). One day he crashed hard from a massive jump on an obstacle course, and 'forgot' to come back to work...

I haven't seen him for over a year now.

Maybe you know a guy in SCOTOMAVILLE like this? Maybe that guy is you?



John Hamilton wrote an insightful article featured on NPR. He writes; "During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military did an about-face on detecting and treating brain injuries caused by explosions. After years of routinely sending blast-exposed troops back into combat, the military implemented a system that requires screening and treatment for traumatic brain injury."(1)

Since World War I and until recently, military doctors had been taught about blast exposure: "If you don't have blood coming out of your head, if you don't have a penetrating injury, you have not been injured," Christian Macedonia says. "Your job as a doctor at that point is to say, 'You're gonna be fine' and basically minimize any of the symptoms."

Macedonia himself believed that when he was deployed to Iraq in 2004, to serve as chief of a combat support hospital near Fallujah. He was seeing horrendous injuries, so he didn't have much time for people who looked OK, even if they'd been dangerously close to a blast.

Macedonia and other military doctors actually became suspicious of service members who suggested blast exposure was the cause of their headaches, fatigue or sleep problems. "The attitude was that these people were trying to get a Purple Heart or something like that," he says. "In retrospect, it was just awful. It was really a bad thing to do to people."

Macedonia's conversion occurred one day in Iraq, when he got caught in a mortar attack.

"I was out with a young Marine. We were in the middle of the attack. And the mortar was probably about 50 meters away," he says.

The blast wave shook them violently. But they were alive. And they weren't bleeding. So Macedonia went back to the hospital. He did surgery until midnight. Then, he headed for bed.

I had a shaving mirror hung up by my cot and I looked in that mirror and I didn't recognize the person looking back at me," he says. Macedonia realized that he couldn't remember anything from the operating room that night.

And he recognized the vacant expression he saw in the mirror: "The same sort of strange look in the eye that I had seen in people who had been in IED blasts up and down the route near our base."

Macedonia was pretty sure he wasn't having a purely psychological reaction to combat. The blast had injured his brain. (1)



Dr. Daniel Amen is known across the country for his work and clinics that do SPECT imaging of the brain. He says; "you can't fix what you can't measure".

He consulted on 'Concussion' the documentary about the NFL's battle on retired football player suicides and mental illness from repeated small concussions on the field.

Dr. Amen has a fabulously 'sticky' example of how to make a brain 'mass' in your kitchen in order to understand just how soft our brains are. In addition to soft, they are housed inside our skull which is filled with sharp ridges - some are sharp as a knife!

You can make a brain mass model for yourself that is close in weight and consistency with 2 cups of sand, 1-1/2 cups potato flakes and 2-1/2 cups of water. (2)


Kevin Kit Parker was deployed as a scientist as well as a soldier, helping the Center for Army Lessons Learned figure out how to protect troops from IEDs. Parker's doctoral thesis had looked at a potentially lethal injury known as cardiac concussion.

The victim is typically a healthy young athlete struck by a baseball or some other projectile, just over the heart. "A hockey puck hits someone and they go down, sudden cardiac death," Parker says. "A single blow to the heart causes an electrical irregularity, and they can die."

Parker had investigated how this sort of blow — a brief mechanical force — could affect the behavior of heart cells. And his research had led him to proteins called integrins, which connect the outermost layers of a cell to the structures inside. The shock wave from a blast can cause the integrin to send unhealthy and sometimes fatal signals to the structures inside cells.

(3)Source: Harvard University Credit: Katherine Du/NPR


Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury in SCOTOMAVILLE - a Search for a TBI Cure

"A treatment that works on blast-induced TBI would be likely to help people with brain injuries caused by a car wreck, or a fall, or a collision on a football field. And, if given soon enough after the injury, it would treat the problem in a way that no currently available drug can.

But the pharmaceutical industry has lost billions of dollars trying to develop drugs for other brain diseases, especially Alzheimer's. And the companies evidently weren't ready to take on the costly search for a drug that might help people with traumatic brain injury. "I was surprised," Parker says. "No one wanted to get in the fight." (6)

Download the Pitch-deck

The word "crisis" is composed of two characters - one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.
John F. Kennedy



more physical needs

SCOTOMAVILLE 01.02 Pattern Recognition
We are pattern recognizing beings. We learn by building on memories which form patterns. These eventually become habits. Some are good. Some are not. Some habits come from numerous and long-standing patterns. We drive across SCOTOMAVILLE demonst...

SCOTOMAVILLE 01.04 Abundant Scarcity
People are hording toilet paper, hand wipes, frozen and canned food. It's as if they fear the end of the world. Abundance and scarcity are concepts. You can't pick them up. You have to imagine those concepts in your mind. The problem is... our emotio...

SCOTOMAVILLE 01.08 Fixation vs Attention
We've likely passed through SCOTOMAVILLE with a 19' Airstream. Maybe stayed there during a global pandemic. Living in tight quarters will focus your attention on the tiny stuff. A simple focus on keeping clean easily turns into fixation. The att...

SCOTOMAVILLE 01.11 Feed Your Gut
Half the people in SCOTOMAVILLE are over-weight. It's not fat - it's inflammation from garbage food choices. When you look down, do you see a belly or your shoes? Do you see a gut or laces? Did you know that we are only 10% human and 90% microbe...

SCOTOMAVILLE 01.12 It Needs Work
There's a saying; "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear." The street version of this goes; "great opportunities always show up looking like hard work." The banner image is from a year before shooting/writing Scotomaville. Full-time tent...

SCOTOMAVILLE 01.14 Triangulation
Untangling fact from fiction, beliefs from truth, and getting traction on your Personal Everest is far more certain with this nifty tool. Using a simple principle from navigation, you can calm your fears and spouse with much more certainty and commit...

We grow up with dreams - dreams of leaving SCOTOMAVILLE. We work hard to ensure we qualify for opportunities. We imagine an an escape from a dull life in SCOTOMAVILLE, and a better outcome. We mentally slice up the journey with milestones. ...

Caring for Your Microbiome in SCOTOMAVILLE
The advertising online and on SCOTOMAVILLE billboards omit the truth about your waistline - most of that fat is inflammation. Most of your dieting isn't going to help if you don't shop the healthy - non-processed food isle at your local Portal:...

Garth Hardin and SCOTOMAVILLE Veteran TBI
Our brains are as soft as easy spread butter and can be injured by a soccer ball or a bomb blast. Until recently, SCOTOMAVILLE veterans we sent home with invisible battle wounds that changed their lives. Awareness of our vulnerability and lifest...