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Traumatic Brain Injury & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are just two of the numerous mental health issues our veterans face after they return home. Symptoms are often specific to the individual, and left untreated the disease can often be fatal.

22 veterans are lost to suicide each day – many of them as a direct result of TBI and/or PTSD. That’s more than 8,000 per year. We are losing more veterans on a daily basis at home than in combat.


Featured Researchers

Dr. Dewleen Baker is the lead investigator of the Marine Resilience Study. Her research is revealing that the strongest predictor of PTSD is a blast injury to the brain. Her study is helping to chip away at the questions surrounding the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan war generation – PTSD and TBI. She is on the cutting edge of visualizing these hard to see problems. Her work with Magneto Encephelography allows her to identify trauma and confirm that it is there.   Jill E. Bormann, Ph.D. RN is a Research Nurse Scientist and Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing at the VA San Diego Healthcare System with an interest in spirituality and health. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at San Diego State University School of Nursing. Dr. Bormann is engaged in ground breaking studies that can put the pause button on PTSD by using Portable Mantram Meditation techniques.

TBI

  • Characterizing Brain Changes
    TBI can result in sometimes-subtle brain damage with changes in memory, attention, thinking personality, and behavior that are currently difficult to diagnose and treat.
  • Regenerating Nerve Cells
    Investigators are working to identify ways to repair the nervous system by supporting regrowth of nerve cells. Strategies being explored include gene therapy, tissue engineering, and adult stem cell transplantation.
  • Using Medications for TBI Symptoms
    The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, a collaboration between VA and the Department of Defense (DoD), is studying the effectiveness of various drugs for treating TBI symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, and mood swings.
  • Supporting Reintegration
    Investigators are examining ways to help Veterans with TBI achieve a smooth transition back into daily life, including family, school, and work roles and to restore independence Veterans with TBI.


PTSD

  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy
    In the largest study to date in women veterans with PTSD, VA researchers found prolonged exposure therapy, in which patients are helped to recall their traumas in a safe, controlled environment to be more effective  than supportive counseling that does involve trauma recall.
  • Virtual Reality Simulations
    Computer generated environments are continually evolving that simulate the sights, sounds, sensations, and smells of feared situations. Therapists can use the technology as an aid to prolonged exposure therapy as they work with patients to change the negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors linked to traumatic events.
  • Hypertension Drug Found To Help Nightmares
    The inexpensive, well-tested generic drug prazosin, already used by millions of Americans for high blood pressure and prostate problems, has been found in pilot studies to improve sleep and lessen trauma nightmares in Veterans with PTSD.