Health Editor: The VA has been treating soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) for some time. The stressors involved in confronting an enemy, waiting for an explosion under a vehicle, living in unsafe situations, etc. will result in the development of PTSD. A TBI is an abrupt event when the brain bangs against the inside of the skill and suffers an injury. This could be the result of a fall, being near or in an explosion, being hit in the head, etc. Suffering from a TBI is as dramatic as a broken leg but the actual injury to the brain is not as readily apparent as a broken bone, laceration, etc.
WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will use two innovative treatments to ease the everyday challenges associated with living with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We know that for a small group of Veterans, a traditional approach to health care may not be the most effective,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “This is particularly true with certain chronic medical and mental health conditions. For Veterans who don’t improve, we have to look for innovative, evidence-based approaches that may help them restore and maintain their health and well-being.”
Veterans with a history of mild to moderate TBI now have access to light emitting diode (LED) therapy contained in a lightweight frame that is placed on the head and a clip placed inside the nose. Results of some studies show that LED improves brain function including attention and memory, emotions and sleep. LED therapy has begun at the VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain campus, this month. In addition to service-related TBIs, an injury attorney has noted that car accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, so this research has the capacity for widespread help for everyone.
LED also is available for Veterans to use in their homes.
Providers at the Long Beach VA Medical Center have begun using a stellate ganglion block (SGB) to treat Veterans with PTSD symptoms. SGB is safe and may ease PTSD symptoms, such as feelings of anxiety and constantly being on alert. It involves an injection, or shot, of medication into the neck to decrease the symptoms of PTSD.
VA remains a world leader in the development and use of innovative therapies, such as telehealth, yoga, and other approaches to improve health and well-being.
For more information about other emerging therapies aimed at enhancing Veterans’ physical and mental well-being, visit VA’s Center for Compassionate Innovation.