Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TBI Helps Treat TBI

The number of service members with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) has steadily increased from the year 2000 to the third quarter of 2010 with 195,547 cases reported from information available from electronic medical records. These records proved to be very valuable as this really helps DOD compile the number of service members diagnosed with TBI and also helps to determine the severity of their injuries.

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) serves active duty military and veterans with TBIs by using state-of-the-art clinical care, and innovative clinical research initiatives. Several years ago, DVBIC’s expanded their care to include force health protection and management through TBI surveillance, maintain a registry, and provide education for families and caregivers.

Also, DVBIC has been able to use the Neurocognitive Assessment Tool (NCAT) to provide cognitive performance baselines to compare with cognitive test scores obtained after an injury. As of 2010, NCAT tests have been administers to nearly 700,000 service members.

According the DVBIC newsletter “Brainwaves”, an effort is being made to step up TBI services at smaller military treatment facilities. DVBIC is now delivering both assessment and treatment via telemedicine. Starting in 2009, DVBIC’s tele-TBI staff rolled out a tele-headache clinic to aid active duty service members at Fort Knox and the equipment is operational at Fort Lee. DVBIC has also made remote neuropsychological testing services available to the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, West Point’s Warrior Transition Unit, and at Fort Sill and Camp Lejeune.

In the past year and a half, the tele-TBI clinic has held over 200 remote sessions run by a team of providers including DVBIC neuropsychologists, neurologists, and other medical staff located at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Participation in the tele-TBI program has been high as service members have kept almost 100 percent of their virtual appointments.

Given the demand for TBI rehabilitation services at isolated military treatment facilities, DVBIC plans to expand its tele-TBI clinics to new sites and include new services such as cognitive rehabilitation, pain management, occupational therapy, speech and language assistance, and physical therapy for TMJ.