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  • DCoE Staff Gives Thanks During the Holidays

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    Our staff at Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) celebrated Thanksgiving in many ways. Some traveled out of town to be with friends and family, some stayed local to cook for those who couldn’t be with family, and a few enjoyed some much-deserved peace and solitude.

    No matter where or how we spent the holiday, all of us are definitely thankful for one major thing: the chance to share with you – our readers! This month we introduced new resources for prevention, resilience and treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health concerns.

    We talked about new gizmos and gadgets from National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), like the PE Coach mobile app. Although it isn’t released to the public yet, it will help providers treat psychological health concerns of service members through prolonged exposure and help users self-monitor their behavior. We also blogged about the new T2 Technology Enhancement Center, a state-of-the-art usability lab that tests technology products to make sure they’re easy for service members to use.

  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Use Technology to Your Benefit

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    Doc Bender explores the T2 Mood Tracker mobile app using his iPad. (DCoE photo)

    Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

    Technology has dramatically changed our world during the past 20 years, including how we approach psychological health care, and mostly for the better. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to find out about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you could either make an appointment with a psychologist or spend countless hours at a library reading books and professional journals. Now, great information is just a click away.

    If you have a smartphone for example, you can instantly download free mobile applications such as the PTSD Coach, and learn about PTSD and ways to help you manage its symptoms. There are apps to track your mood during a period of time and give you and your provider information to help diagnose a possible mood or anxiety disorder. Treatment guidelines to help providers manage patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) are even available on a smartphone. There are lots of good online assessment tools, and although they don’t give a clinical diagnosis of a disorder, they can get you thinking about your well-being and help start a conversation with a mental health care provider if needed.

  • Military Mom Shows Unwavering Support to Injured Son

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    Saralee Trimble offers suggestions to her son, Army Pfc. Kevin Trimble, as he works on a leather project with his brother, Ben, at the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, Nov. 10, 2011. (DoD photo by Linda Hosek)

    Many caregivers, especially those caring for a loved one injured in combat, find themselves suddenly and/or unexpectedly in this new role. It often requires uprooting from ones’ home in order to be by their loved one’s side during recovery; leaving behind jobs and existing family responsibilities; and having to put plans on hold indefinitely. Nonetheless, it’s something that most family members do without hesitation—and they learn to cope with the physical and emotional strains that follow. If you find yourself in a caregiver role, check out the resources created just for you listed at the end of this post.

    This blog post comes from Elaine Sanchez with Family Matters Blog, about a military mom caring for her teenage son, who sustained multiple injuries while deployed in Afghanistan.

    I was on a tour of the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio when a woman caught my eye.

  • New Mobile Apps Help Users Self-manage Behavior, Diagnose, Assess

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    U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez

    Most of us know what a mobile application is—chances are if you own a smartphone, you have downloaded not one, but multiple apps and for various purposes. I, for example, depend on my weather app to know if I should grab my umbrella, or leave it at home.

    Standing apart from weather, music and game apps are a new genre of smartphone programs specifically designed for troops and health care providers. These apps, developed by National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), a center of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), address a more serious matter: psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    I spoke with Dr. Nancy Kao Rhiannon, a T2 psychologist and mobile application program manager, about some of these new apps (soon to hit the market) and how specifically the military community can benefit from using them.

  • Sesame Workshop Offers 10 Ways for Military Kids to “Let it Out”

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    Children give full attention to the stage during the launch of new resources for military families by Sesame Workshop. Activities were hosted at Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall, Va., Nov. 5. (Sesame Workshop photo by Evy Mages)

    Let it Out” is the title of a new music video, and fun catch-phrase, created by Sesame Workshop to help military children express their feelings about deployed parents, multiple moves, holidays without loved ones and a whole host of unique emotional issues military families face.

    New resources from Sesame Workshop, with characters from Sesame Street and The Electric Company, will help elementary school-aged children in military families let their emotions out in positive and creative ways, and stay connected to their loved ones while they’re deployed. The just-launched initiative is a result of on-going collaboration between Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) and the nonprofit Sesame Workshop to help military families cope with challenging transitions.

    The new bilingual website for military families, Military Families Near and Far, is designed to offer a safe, fun place for families to “create, communicate and stay connected.” On the site, there are seven ways you and your child can make that happen.

  • Get to Know National Center for Telehealth, Technology

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    The Virtusphere enables service members to navigate a virtual combat 3D environment using real-life body movements. (Photo courtesy of National Center for Telehealth & Technology)

    If you visit National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) headquarters, don’t be surprised if you see the following: a psychologist navigating through a virtual Middle Eastern market in Second Life; a uniformed soldier walking inside a giant, stationary hamster ball; a group of software developers gathered around an Android tablet trying out the latest T2 mobile application; or a technician setting up computer stations inside a modified cargo container.

    As the primary Department of Defense entity using technology for psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI) care, T2 is at the nexus of technology, health care and innovation.

    We research, develop and deploy solutions with cutting edge platforms such as virtual worlds, virtual reality, web applications, mobile telehealth and mobile applications.

    And the greatest advantage our center has is its people.

    Knowledge and skills possessed by our psychologists, developers, researchers and technical staff enables us to fulfill the T2 mission: use technology to help deliver psychological health and traumatic brain injury care to improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families.