By Heather Clark, Fort Campbell Courier staffJanuary 27, 2012
(FORT CAMPBELL, KY, January 27, 2012)--Sergeant Richard Remalia, of Charlie Company, Warrior Transition Battalion, sits grasping a cane in an examination room of Fort Campbell's Warrior Care Clinic. He's been the recipient of countless treatments and therapies since his deployment to Afghanistan was cut short by an RPG attack in Kandahar.
"I had a traumatic brain injury," said Remalia. "I fractured my lower back, hip and pelvis. I tore ligaments in my shoulder and now have to have surgery."
After his injuries, Remalia was told he would likely never run again. While at the Warrior Transition Battalion in San Antonio, he was confined to a wheelchair. He decided that the story would not end there.
"I'm stubborn, so I refused to stay down," said Remalia. "I kept going."
After initial, crucial treatments of his TBI and other injuries, Remalia came to the WTB at Fort Campbell.
"As soon as I got here, they told me there were a lot of processes I'd be going through," said Remalia.
Some of the processes are what most would expect from the Wounded Warrior care program: medicinal treatment, physical and behavioral therapies, and social adjustment counseling while in transition. Other options, however, are fairly new tools in the arsenal.
Upon close inspection, one might notice small, metal stud-like items in Remalia's ears. It's not a stray from military jewelry regulations. These items are actually auricular acupuncture needles.
Auricular acupuncture, cranial electric stimulation and hypnosis are among the new pain and anxiety management therapies being explored at the Warrior Care Clinic.
"I actually prefer the term integrative medicine," said Col. Rochelle Wasserman, Warrior Transition Battalion surgeon and director of the Warrior Care Clinic. "We use all modalities that might be helpful to our Soldiers in addition to what most would consider traditional or conventional standard medicines."
Because treating wounded warriors is far from a one-step process, Wasserman feels that the new therapies can be seen by some as another option on the roadmap to recovery -- an option that, for receptive patients, can offer a bit of reprieve from narcotic and/or psychotropic medications.
"There's no one technique that works for all people, whether you're talking about medication, physical therapy or acupuncture," explained Wasserman. "We individualize it according to the patient's condition and the results they get from the treatment."
Wasserman says the ultimate goal at the Warrior Care Clinic is to improve pain control and quality of life by whatever techniques are available. She also understands that some people might raise a skeptical eyebrow when offered alternative treatments.
"I, too, was rather skeptical of some of these techniques," said Wasserman. "But they've been shown to work in certain populations. In acupuncture, for example, evidence indicates that the stimulation of parts of the ear releases the body's natural pain modulating substances. As more research becomes available, we'll make all of our techniques more effective."
Though the precise mechanisms of these treatments are not always known, Wasserman says she is pleased with the results she's seen.
"What we're looking for is an effect that's greater than 30 percent, and I've been getting greater than that," said Wasserman.