Fair Showcases Defense Progress in Traumatic Brain Injuries

WASHINGTON — The Defense Depart­ment exhib­it­ed its lat­est tech­nol­o­gy and prac­tices in the diag­no­sis and treat­ment of trau­mat­ic brain injuries at the 11th annu­al Brain Injury Aware­ness Day Fair here yes­ter­day.

Tere­sa Burke, a con­trac­tor work­ing for the Defense Cen­ters of Excel­lence for Psy­cho­log­i­cal Health and Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury, explains her organization’s role to a vis­i­tor March 22, 2012, at the 11th annu­al Brain Injury Aware­ness Day Fair in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The Con­gres­sion­al Brain Injury Task Force spon­sored the event. DOD pho­to by Ter­ri Moon Cronk
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The event at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ray­burn Build­ing, which was jam-packed with infor­ma­tion seek­ers, was spon­sored by the Con­gres­sion­al Brain Injury Task Force in sup­port of Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury Month. The fair fea­tured near­ly 60 fed­er­al agency and pri­vate-sec­tor exhibitors, includ­ing the mil­i­tary ser­vices. Defense agen­cies at the fair includ­ed the Defense Cen­ters of Excel­lence for Psy­cho­log­i­cal Health and Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury, and its com­po­nents, the Nation­al Intre­pid Cen­ter of Excel­lence and the Defense and Vet­er­ans Brain Injury Cen­ter.

“Pub­lic aware­ness of trau­mat­ic brain injury over­all has dra­mat­i­cal­ly increased,” said Joshua Stueve, the Intre­pid Center’s pub­lic affairs offi­cer, who host­ed his organization’s exhib­it. The big turnout from con­gres­sion­al and mil­i­tary staffers and the pub­lic was evi­dence of that aware­ness, he added.

Numer­ous DOD prod­ucts proved pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors. One such item was the “Deploy­ment Men­tal Health Assess­ments Pock­et Guide,” a com­pact, yet com­pre­hen­sive, book­let that out­lines how to assess ser­vice mem­bers for TBI, post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der, depres­sion, sui­ci­dal ten­den­cies and oth­er psy­cho­log­i­cal ills. It is an offi­cial DOD guide to assess ser­vice mem­bers before and after deploy­ment for use in the field and oth­er envi­ron­ments.

An appli­ca­tion for smart­phones called “Toolk­it: Mild Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury and Psy­cho­log­i­cal Health” was anoth­er new fea­ture offered by DOD this year. The mobile phone “app” pro­vides infor­ma­tion based on Pen­ta­gon and Vet­er­ans Affairs guide­lines to help pri­ma­ry care providers assess patients and man­age their diag­noses for con­cus­sion, PTSD, depres­sion, chron­ic pain and sub­stance abuse, and pro­vides oth­er resources.

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jer­sey — co-chair of the Con­gres­sion­al Brain Injury Task Force — announced that the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives had just unan­i­mous­ly passed reau­tho­riza­tion of the Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury Act. After the announce­ment, the fair end­ed with a TBI pan­el of experts dis­cussing “The Impact of Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury: Any time, Any­one, Any Age.”

In his news con­fer­ence, Pascrell said about 1.7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans suf­fer some form of TBI each year, from a con­cus­sion to a severe brain injury, such as those that can result from vehi­cle acci­dents and mil­i­tary blasts. “Every con­cus­sion is brain dam­age,” Pascrell said. “The Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury Act is the only fed­er­al act that address­es the needs of the TBI com­mu­ni­ty.”

The reau­tho­riza­tion act will help those with trau­mat­ic brain injuries and their care­givers gain access to reha­bil­i­ta­tion, long-term care, com­mu­ni­ty help, fam­i­ly sup­port and oppor­tu­ni­ties to return home, to school, work and activ­i­ties, he said. “This is a big issue,” he added.

Tere­sa Burke, a Defense Cen­ters of Excel­lence con­trac­tor, said she thought the event went very well and helped to spread aware­ness of brain trau­ma.

“It was a great event across the board,” she said. “It’s a great way to get the word across to leg­isla­tive lead­ers.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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