Battling PTSD and TBI

By Mark Thompson, Time.US Somehow seems fitting on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 to note that the Pentagon has just announced it is funneling $100 million into a pair of new efforts to try to find out how better to fight the scourge of post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury triggered by the post-9/11 wars. “PTSD and TBI are two of the most devastating injuries suffered by our warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Dr. Terry Rauch, Program Director for Defense Medical Research and Development within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Department of Defense. “Identifying better treatments for those impacted is critical.” The “consortia,” as the Pentagon calls the two initiatives, are the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (CAP) and the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC). They will be managed jointly by the Department of Veterans Affairs and, on behalf of the Defense Department, by what the Pentagon calls its Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (military mathematical truth: the more overhead dedicated to an effort, the less oversight it gets). – For PTSD, CAP “will study potential indicators of the trauma, as well as prevention strategies, possible interventions, and improved treatments. Biomarker-based researched will be a key factor for CAP’s studies,” the CDMRP says. PTSD afflicts some troops after combat tours, and causes anxiety, depression and other mental ills. – For mTBI, CENC will try “to establish an understanding of the aftereffects of an mTBI. Potential comorbidities also will be studied; that is, conditions that are associated with and worsen because of a neurotrauma,” the CDMRP says. TBI is a physical wound – a concussion — usually suffered by troops near the shock waves of an improvised explosive device. It can bruise the brain and cause mood changes, fatigue, and sleeping more – or less – than usual. The two conditions are often seen in the same person, exponentially compounding their impacts.