DCoE Blog

  • Health Care Professionals Give On-Demand Summit High Marks
    DCoE 2016 Summit. Enroll today at dcoe.cds.pesgce.com. Did you miss it? It's OK. You can register for on-demand sessions and apply for continuing education credits now through April 2017.

    The reviews are in. Health care providers give high marks to the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Summit home study sessions. The 2016 summit, “State of the Science: Advances, Current Diagnostics and Treatments of Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury in Military Health Care” is offered on demand until April 30.

    For another 10 weeks, providers can receive continuing education credit for completing the summit webinars, said Dr. Lolita O’Donnell, DCoE chief of planning and logistics.

  • 2016 DCoE Summit Review: Center Offers Intensive Care for TBI Patients
    DCoE photo by Terry Welch

    Doctors from the Fort Hood Intrepid Spirit Center in Killeen, Texas presented a multidisciplinary treatment approach for service members coping with the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) at the 2016 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Summit Sept. 13-15.

    Dr. Scot Engel, a clinical psychologist and site director of the Intrepid Spirit Center, and Dr. John Dieter, a neuropsychologist and director of research, explained the Fort Hood Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which helps service members who have deployed to combat zones or experienced sexual assault in the military. Candidates are eligible to participate with commander approval if they have not responded positively to lower-level treatments and have at least two of the following:

    • A history of TBI
    • Current experience with significant emotional distress
    • Chronic pain

    The program combines multiple disciplines to also treat service members with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • Why Helping Civilian Providers Understand Military Culture Matters
    Protecting the mental health of the force
    U.S. Army photo by Dustin Senger

    One size does not fit all when it comes to health care. As some service members and veterans feel more comfortable turning to civilian providers, providers can treat them more effectively if they understand military culture.

    Presenters at the 2015 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Summit spoke about how civilian providers can improve their understanding of service members, veterans and their families by learning more about military culture. Providers can use free workshops and seminars, and information on programs that may assist veterans.

    “The most important thing we can do is to make an effort to know and learn about the military culture. That will help the relationship grow stronger and better,” said Kim Ruocco, chief external relations officer of the Suicide Prevention and Postvention Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

  • Providers Can Help Patients Transfer Care with Ease

    Doing right by patients who are transferring is as easy as a phone call, according to George Lamb, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) outreach chief. That’s all it takes to make sure service members continue to get the psychological care they need when they change duty stations or leave the military.

    That is the message Lamb wanted providers to take home from the 2015 DCoE Summit. InTransition is a program that assigns patients to a coach who checks in with them regularly and facilitates their care.  

    “To me it’s a no-brainer,” Lamb told conference participants. “You would have to have a notebook a foot high to list all the benefits available. I know how difficult it can be.”

    With one call to inTransition, the work is done, he said. “It takes three to five minutes. It’s actually quicker than ordering meds if you make the referral online,” said Lamb.

  • Sleep Issues Bedevil Soldiers’ Health
    Download on the Army website: Sleep when you can, where you can
    Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cliffton Dolezal

    Lack of sleep is a serious issue for many service members, as shown by the findings of a study on military sleep sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). In particular, sleep issues are the “No. 1 military disorder” among soldiers who return from deployment after sustaining traumatic brain injuries, according to Lt. Col. Kate Van Arman, medical director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic on Fort Drum, New York. This article by David Vergun from the Fort Leonard Wood “Guidon” recounts Van Arman’s presentation at the DCoE 2015 Summit on Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    “I didn’t realize that all this time I’ve been in a formation of drunks,” the noncommissioned officer, or NCO, told Lt. Col. Kate Van Arman.

  • Primary Care and Emergency Providers Can Help Prevent Suicide
    Military Crisis Line

    An important finding about suicide is spurring a new approach to reducing it: In the month before they take their own lives, many people who die by suicide seek medical or psychological care.

    These patients don’t come to their local clinic or hospital for help with suicidal thoughts, but with other medical or mental health issues. They may have traumatic brain injury, or they could be depressed. They may have chronic health problems. They might have gone to the emergency department following a drug overdose. Those conditions are treated, but the patient is not necessarily assessed for suicidal risk.

    By evaluating all patients at risk of suicide no matter their reason for seeking care, immediately treating those at risk, and providing follow-up care, health care systems can substantially reduce suicides, presenters said at the 2015 summit of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    “The potential is there for primary and behavioral health providers to reduce suicide,” said Eileen F. Zeller, an official with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).