By Jerry HarbenSeptember 28, 2007
The Army is making great strides in treating Soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and wants especially to ensure that civilian health-care providers are informed about the symptoms of these ailments, Army medical leaders told medical reporters on Sept. 26.
In a meeting at the Office of The Army Surgeon General in Falls Church, Va., Col. C. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to The Surgeon General and director of the Proponency of Behavioral Health, and Col. Jonathan Jaffin, acting commander of the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, discussed treatment, education and prevention measures the Army is taking regarding these two conditions.
-- A chain-teaching program that is educating all Soldiers and leaders about PTSD and TBI so they can help recognize, prevent and treat these health issues.
-- The Post Deployment Health Assessment, and the Post Deployment Health Reassessment three to six months later, help identify Soldiers with behavioral health problems.
-- Four Mental Health Advisory Teams have evaluated threats to the mental health of deployed Soldiers and resources to counter those threats.
-- Respect-Mil, a program to integrate behavioral health care into primary medical care at health clinics.
-- BATTLEMIND training for Soldiers and their spouses before deployments. -- Two age-appropriate video programs developed to help children cope with deployment of their parents.
-- Army medical professionals collaborate and partner with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.
-- The Military Acute Concussion Evaluation (MACE) is used in theater to help diagnose mild TBI.
-- The Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metric (ANAM) provides a standard, objective measurement of reaction time, short-term memory and other cognitive skills. It is used to measure unseen, subtle effects of injury.
"About 70 percent of Soldiers with TBI have mild injuries and recover over time. Mild TBI causes acute somatic symptoms like headache, dizziness, nausea and light-sensitivity. Mild TBI may also cause behavioral health symptoms such as sleep problems, memory problems, confusion and irritability," said Jaffin.
"Many Soldiers experiencing these temporary symptoms may not know why they have them. I can\'t emphasize enough that medical treatment involves education for Soldiers and Family members as well as early and appropriate treatment for the symptoms. Most people recover from mTBI," he added.
"Medical professionals outside the military health-care system may treat service members or their Families. It's important for them to have visibility on our internal efforts to address PTSD and TBI," said Ritchie.
"They need to ask patients, 'Are you a veteran'' They need to ask about exposure to blast or traumatic events," she added. "You can find more information about all of these issues by visiting our behavioral health Web site at http://www.behavioralhealth.army.mil," said Ritchie.