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  • Dogs Ease PTSD, TBI in Service Members

    Read the full story: Dogs Ease PTSD, TBI in Service Members

    One of the best tools in combating the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) may not be in a form of a medicine we take, but in the company we keep.

    Dogs are more than just man’s best friend, rehabilitation experts say. Not only can be they be service dogs, but the work of training the dogs for fellow warriors benefits service members with PTSD or TBI. The training process helps the service members overcome symptoms such as emotional numbness and social anxiety and begin to reintegrate into community and interact with strangers. In addition, because dogs respond to positive cues, the trainers learn to display verbal cues and body language associated with happiness and excitement. In essence, the dog and trainer help each other.

  • 7 TBI Resources to Take Back to School

    Read the full story: 7 TBI Resources to Take Back to School
    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anna Van Nuys

    With the heat letting up and the loud singing of insects come the promise of fall with cooler days, early darkness, and the start of school.

    If you are a service member or veteran who has sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and you’re going back to school this fall, you may face challenges related solely to your experience with TBI. Here’s a list of resources that can help you manage the challenges and make the most out of your return to the classroom.

    • Back to School Guide to Academic Success After Traumatic Brain Injury: This comprehensive 50-page guide, from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), provides help for service members and veterans who have ongoing symptoms from a TBI and are going to college, university or vocational school. Among many useful topics is information on accommodations that schools can be asked to make for TBI-injured students, such as approval to use tape recorders or other assistive technology and priority seating.
  • Teachers are Key to Helping Brain-Injured Students Succeed

    Read the story: Teachers are Key to Helping Brain-Injured Students Succeed
    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sinthia Rosario

    Going back to college after a brain injury can be a challenge, but it can also be the best medicine that person can get — as long as the proper accommodations are in place.

    “Schools are a great place for managing rehab,” said Karen Hux, a professor in the special education department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The same strategies teachers use to help students with other disabilities can be applied to students with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), she said.

    Hux discussed the importance of appropriate accommodations for students with TBI during the Aug. 13 webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE).

  • Deployment Training Helps Build Resilience at Home

    Read the story: Deployment Training Helps Build Resilience at Home
    U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher

    Mental resilience, a new buzzword in psychological health, has long been a goal of military training, although it hasn’t always been defined that way. Some of the goals of military training — unit cohesion, physical fitness, mental stability — could help service members after deployment too.

    Maj. Michael Gold has drawn on some of his training experience to develop tools that help him be more resilient in civilian life. He recalls preparing for the 101st Airborne Division deployment to southern Afghanistan during 2010-2011.

    “Everything we did attempted to incorporate building mental toughness into soldiers,” Gold said. “From individual training to collective training, our leader team incorporated different types of stressors for soldiers; whether it was a physical stressor added to an event or mental stressor forcing a soldier to make a decision. All this was to help soldiers prepare to operate outside their comfort zones in garrison in preparation for the complexities of actual deployment and combat.”

  • 5 Tips to Include Mindfulness in Your Everyday Life

    Read the story: 5 Tips to Include Mindfulness in Your Everyday Life

    During the past few months on the DCoE Blog we’ve explored the benefits of mindfulness meditation and shared steps on how to practice, but it can be a whole new challenge to implement the practice into daily life. Work, duty, deployment, kid’s soccer practice, medical appointments, family time, relationships, exercise, and sleep — it seems our lives keep getting fuller. Even so, it’s possible to fit in a brief mindfulness session that could keep us from feeling overwhelmed by the rest of our lives. Check out the strategies below:

    1. Start small: Start with five minutes and gradually increase the length of time as you feel more comfortable.
    2. Download an app: You don’t have to practice alone. Many find a guided mindfulness meditation practice helpful. Mindfulness Coach, a mobile app created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology and the Department of Veterans Affairs, is free and offers meditation tips to bring with you on the go.
  • Military Kids, Teachers Find Back-to-School Help Online

    Read the story: Military Kids, Teachers Find Back-to-School Help Online
    U.S. Army photo by Ignacio Iggy Rubalcava

    Two of the middle-school boys in the focus group kept refilling their drinks. Others fidgeted. Chairs scraped and voices rose in multiple conversations. But when one boy said he was afraid that his father wouldn’t come home from his deployment, the room grew silent and the other boys focused on him.

    “I heard about the fear directly from the little boy and I observed the immediate connection,” said psychologist Kelly Blasko, who led focus groups as the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) set out to create a website for military kids. “Our mission was clear: connect these children so they can support each other and not feel alone.”

    Today, the T2 Military Kids Connect (MKC) website has received more than a quarter million hits since it launched in January 2012. Teen and tween avatars in camouflage gear share tips about coping with deployments, siblings or moving, and teen-created videos offer introductions to new military bases.