Use the filters to browse the information we have available or to narrow your search results for a specific audience (e.g. caregivers, military, children), a preferred type of content (e.g. videos, blogs, articles), or by topics of interest (e.g. family concerns, legal issues, symptoms).
The Home Base program, which includes comprehensive assessments and a two-week immersion into therapies and treatments for TBI, PTSD, and other conditions, is created anew for each veteran or service member who joins. Whether engaging in physical or cognitive therapeutic interventions, learning how better to communicate with family and friends, or delving into art therapies, each individual becomes part of a strong and supportive community of people who understand their experiences, though everyone’s experiences and issues are unique and treated as such.
Home Base, a free Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital program, started small, but then and now—as it has grown to help 1,000s of veterans and service members nationwide—it remains a passion for many. The program focuses on treating the invisible wounds of war like TBI and PTSD. With evidence-based treatments in all domains like behavioral therapy, physical therapy, health and wellness, and medications, providers help these warriors with issues that run the gamut from sleep apnea and cognitive function to depression and physical pain.
For many service members and veterans, traumatic brain injury and PTSD often go hand in hand, with some of the symptoms of these conditions being co-morbid. By using evidence-based treatments, providers work with their patients with the goal of getting them as symptomless as possible.
Changes don’t happen 0-60 mph, rather they occur incrementally. Providers know that barriers can impede improvement to healing, but by setting a series of step-by-step goals—whether treatments for better sleep, pain relief, or relationship strategies— service members and veterans can see improvements to their physical, behavioral, and emotional issues and build on them from there.
There is great hope and are effective cures to treat people who experience symptoms from trauma or PTSD. Often people have the misperception that PTSD is a chronic, life-time condition. Not so; with treatment, most people can be cured or helped to manage their symptoms so as to return to a productive life.
Two-week intensive outpatient programs that implement a comprehensive, holistic approach to treatment, The Road Home Program includes two treatment arms for veterans and their families—one for veterans who experience battlefield PTSD, the other for survivors of military sexual trauma. Their data reveal high success rates during the program and in the long-term, post-program.
After intensive treatment programs like Home Base, often veterans and service members need to rely on their local providers who have not been specifically trained to work with people who have military-related TBI and/or PTSD. But there are lots of resources out there, like Home Base, that can help civilian providers learn more to successfully understand and help this large, unique population in their cities and towns.
Often feelings of lost connection with family members—whether with a spouse, children, parents, or siblings—is what finally catalyzes a veteran or service member to seek treatment for TBI and/or PTSD. For example, a Special Ops veteran who had deployed 10 times during a 35-year military career finally sought treatment through the Home Base program because his child told his wife that he was afraid of him. He did not want the effects of TBI and/or PTSD to create irreparable damage to his whole, multigenerational family.
There are several misconceptions around brain injury and it is important to dispel them. One is that someone with a TBI cannot get better. Not true; in fact, many, many people with TBI who are engaged in treatment get better and return to full lives. The second issue is the wishful thinking that there is one pill or technology that can cure a TBI. Not true; rather engaging in a series of evidence-based treatments and sticking to one’s treatment regimen is what helps people heal.
Dr. Mary Alexis Iaccarino tells the story of a service member who sent her team a note of thanks along with a photo of himself attending his daughter’s graduation. Before attending the Home Base program as well as a special brain health and trauma program for Special Operations Forces, he could never have imagined being in a crowd filled with noises and lights. For him, attending the graduation was a huge win; because of treatment he was able to participate in a big family moment.
Home Base has been offering outpatient programs for 10 years and intensive programs for the last five, during which time they have learned two main lessons. The first is the importance of designing individual treatment plans for each person based on their biomarkers of injury, symptoms, and needs. Secondly, they learned the importance of follow through post-program—whether helping a service member or veteran learn the tools for self-management when ready or educating local practitioners to better help the military population with TBI and/or PTSD.
Researchers and doctors are learning more about how blast injuries, especially if repetitive and sustained close together, can affect the brain far more significantly than a singular blow to the head as from football, boxing, or a car crash. When treating veterans and service members, clinicians in the Home Base program start by taking an in-depth TBI history starting from childhood to the present. The more they understand the mechanism, frequency, and interval between any sustained injuries, the more pointed their treatment can be.
Oftentimes, a family member is the first to recognize symptoms of TBI and/or PTSD in their loved one who has returned from military service. At the Home Base program, veterans and service members are accompanied by a family member for part of the two-week intensive so upon returning home, the family knows better how to help their loved one understand their symptoms and aid with and ongoing treatments, interventions, medications, and general support.
TBI is a multi-faceted injury that can present physically through headaches, balance, hearing, or vision problems; psychologically through depression or post-traumatic stress; cognitively through memory and attention issues; or all or a combination of these “buckets.” Home Base is a two-week intensive program for veterans and service members that serves as part of their journey to recovery. After the two weeks, case managers help their clients set up the necessary care and services they need in their community and follow their progress.
Dr. Iaccarino shares how suffering a spine injury as a teenager sparked her passion for helping others with brain injury using neurological rehabilitation and recovery, especially veterans and military service members.
After sustaining a spinal injury as a teenager, Dr. Mary Alexis Iaccarino changed the trajectory of her future. She spent months and years in rehab for her neurological injury then went on to become a physiatrist who specializes in treating and rehabilitating people with the most clinically complex cases of sports concussion, traumatic brain injury, and repetitive head trauma. When she treats veterans and service members, she harkens back to her own experiences, encouraging them toward second careers and full lives even with a TBI.
In our country—and around the world—we are witnessing a rise in suicide, drug dependency, and poor access to physical and mental health services. Programs like Wounded Warrior Project feel it is their responsibility to translate their best practices offered to veterans and service members for treatment and rehabilitation for these conditions to the entire country and world of civilians.
Recently, Wounded Warrior Project funded a study with the Rand Corporation on the need to treat substance use disorder along with treating traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The often co-occurring conditions must be treated simultaneously to be as effective as possible.
Because Wounded Warrior Project works with many vets who have TBI and/or PTSD, staff hear many misconceptions. One misconception is that there are no treatments for TBI and PTSD. Not true. There are gold-standard treatments to heal people with PTSD and there are very effective rehab programs for people with TBI. Also, people need to remember that both of these conditions are often invisible wounds and can affect anyone—male, female, young, old, and so on.
A traumatic brain injury or repeated brain traumas can sometimes lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, astrogliosis, or other neurogenerative conditions. Since researchers are still learning about the progression of these diseases, which can stem from repeated TBIs, providers are currently trying to plan and address how to change their model of care to best help veterans and their families in the long term.
Service members and veterans feel a deep connection with each other and their families. Through Wounded Warrior Project’s various programs—in-person and/or online—veterans can come together, empower each other, and once home, support the greater good of their communities.
John, an Air force veteran, who sustained a TBI has benefitted greatly from almost all of the programs offered through Wounded Warrior Project. With help from community support specialists, life skills coaches, and other alternative treatments, John—and his wife—have turned some of their challenges into advantages and are now giving back to their community.
Wounded Warrior Project’s Independence Program case managers understand that when a service member has a TBI or other physical or mental health issues, the whole family is affected—in the short- and long-term. WWP case managers get to know their families intimately, checking on them weekly and helping them find the services and resources they need. They are always available to help families navigate through these sometimes-complex situations.
The core services of Wounded Warrior Project’s Independence Program include case management, resource management, care coordination, home health aide, alternative therapies, and more, with the primary goal of helping service members and their families rebuild a normal routine, plan for and succeed in the long-term, independently. But the program is always there as a safety net if new challenges arise.
Wounded Warrior Project’s Independence Program does not have a protocol to work with service members and their families when they transition home from a clinical facility, but they do have a highly successful formula for independent programing that caters to the individual needs of their clients whether those needs arise from the vet’s neurological trauma or from emotional or psychological challenges that result from that trauma.