Medical Attention for Soldiers Suffering From Stress Disorders and Brain Injuries

Post-traumatic stress disorders and brain injuries are the signature injuries of today's wars.

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Research funded by the Department of Defense in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has done a great deal to enhance medical specialists' understanding of post-traumatic stress disorders and traumatic brain injuries.

The DOD is working to better train its military medical personnel and also is increasing its purchases of imaging equipment to better diagnose injuries, according to Ellen Embrey, the acting principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

This type of knowledge is increasingly critical as such injuries continue to increase among soldiers and marines who experience medical and psychological problems after returning from these wars.

In 2007, the Defense Department began a comprehensive plan to transform its system of care for psychological health and traumatic brain injuries for troops.

In cooperation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pentagon also is developing standards of treatment and diagnosis for psychological problems, she added.

Innovations include expanding complementary and alternative medicine approaches to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders and traumatic brain injuries. Such treatments include yoga and acupuncture. The DOD also is working with research universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and with groups with experience in dealing with head trauma, such as the National Football League, "to explore new ways to mitigate the effect of blast and blunt trauma on our populations," Embrey said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.