DCoE Blog

  • You Can Practice Mindfulness Meditation – Every Day
    U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock

    Meditation is a valuable tool for mental health, but working it into a busy schedule can seem challenging.

    Dr. Mark Bates, associate director of psychological health promotion at the Deployment Health Clinical Center, recommends several short meditation practices that can fit into your daily routine. These meditation practices can be a good starting point for bringing mindfulness into your everyday life.

    “You don’t have to add anything to your day; you can integrate meditation to enhance your day,” Bates said.

    It is important to note that relaxation is not the goal of these meditations, even though they may help you relax. Meditators should focus on simply performing the meditation, rather than attaining a specific mood state.

    Focusing Attention

    • Benefit: This meditation can increase calm and focus during different activities. Focusing attention helps you follow through on completing a goal while reducing distraction.

       
      “A big part of mindfulness practice is being in the moment,” Bates said.

  • Seek Help Early for Substance Abuse Following TBI
    Silhouette of man drinking a shot with other shots lined up in front of him
    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarvie Z. Wallace

    Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and substance use disorder share many symptoms, and one condition may often complicate the other. Experts from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) discussed the problems service members can face when the two conditions intersect during a webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Research shows that substance misuse is responsible for 37-50 percent of all TBIs. The majority of individuals who experience a TBI have a history of substance misuse, which often continues after the injury. In addition, a TBI itself can lead to substance misuse, said Lars Hungerford, a senior clinical research director for DVBIC.

    “TBI is actually a risk factor for binge drinking, even after controlling for PTSD and demographic factors,” Hungerford said.

    Substance misuse, particularly alcohol use, can complicate TBI in several ways:

    • Increased likelihood of another TBI. That’s because substance misuse can impair balance, coordination and judgment.
    • Lowered seizure threshold. TBI may increase the risk of seizure from drinking, and alcohol can impede anti-seizure medications.
    • Delayed or halted brain recovery. Alcohol can cause inflammation of the brain, which inhibits its ability to heal.
  • Snowboarders, Skiers Need to Protect Their Heads Too
    U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour

    Did you wear a helmet the last time you went skiing or snowboarding? If you said no, it’s time to change the way you think about winter sports safety. Dr. Scott Livingston, director of education for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, said that people need to wear helmets for these types of activities.

    “There is definitely ample research that shows that wearing helmets reduces head injury risk,” he said.

    Helmets don’t always prevent concussion, but they do reduce concussion risk and they are highly effective in preventing catastrophic brain injury, Livingston said, citing a book about preventing concussion by Dr. William P. Meehan III, director of the The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention at Boston Children’s Hospital.

  • Seeing Double? Brain Injury Could Be Cause
    U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel

    Vision problems are common symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Sometimes, they can have a major impact on your quality of life. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of people with TBI have vision issues that may affect their professional and academic performance.

    Car accidents, blunt force trauma and other possible traumatic events may lead to swelling in the brain. This can cause problems with vision or eye coordination. Visual problems after a TBI often affect eye coordination and can be difficult to diagnose, especially when there is no loss of clear vision or other outward sign of injury.

  • Things You Need to Know About Depression
    Read the full story: Things You Need to Know About Depression

    Although people use the words depressed or depression to refer to a sad mood, it is much more than just a bad day. Depression is a complicated condition with many aspects.

    According to the National Institute for Mental Health, depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working. Misunderstandings about depression can hinder proper identification and treatment. Additionally, the signs and effects of depression can differ from person to person. The Deployment Health Clinical Center outlines six key aspects of depression:

  • Lessons Learned in Sports Concussion Management
    U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Ellis

    Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) experts discussed how best practices in sports concussion management benefit military medicine during a recent webinar. Just as athletic trainers and civilian sports medicine doctors decide when athletes are ready to get back in the game, military health care providers must assess when a service member can return to duty.

    Concussions make up more than 82 percent of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the military. The majority of these injuries happen in non-combat settings. Falls cause approximately 32 percent of concussions, and car accidents, assaults and impacts with objects (combined) account for the other 64 percent. These are similar to the same categories of injury mechanisms as sports-related concussions.

    However, concussions caused by blast exposure are also common in the military, said Dr. Scott Livingston, DVBIC education division director.

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