Learning to Treat People with TBI and Combat Stress
If Dr. Shane McNamee had a magic wand and limitless funds, he would focus less on treatment and more on how to actually help people with TBI and combat stress deal with their symptoms and move on to the next phases of their lives.
An effective treatment strategy for individuals who suffered concusions, being blast-related or civilian-related, we need to know how to treat these people. We need to know what are really the things that we can do to help people overcome and get better from those things. Similarly with the combat-stress syndromes. Again, there is a lot of work out there being done. So, if I could magically make it, there would be a little pill that we would just give to people, and everything would be okay, and we'd reset their brains. But, there are a tremendous number of gaps—treatment-related gaps of what are the best practices? What exactly can you do to help individuals get better over time? What's the underlying pathophysiology? What's actually going on with the brain, both with the stress syndomes as well as the TBI? What are we going to see 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line? Are there going to be issues with CTE— with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy? It's possible with these folks. What are the best ways—and I think if I had a personal passion these days it's— how do we get people back to work again after they've come out of the military and served? The unemployment figures for for disabled vets under the age of 30 are staggering. How do we avoid a generation of disability? How do we get these folks back into an environment where they are producing and have value to society? So, if I had a magic wand and people gave me a ton of money to do something, I honestly—at this point—wouldn't probably focus as much on the research on all the particular little pieces of what's happening with folks. I'd focus it on how do we actually help individuals move on. How do we help treat them with their symptoms as best as we can? And, how do we get them reintegrated into the vocational work force to allow them to carry on to the next phases of their lives?
Posted on BrainLine September 28, 2012.
Shane McNamee, MD serves as chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Richmond VAMC and has worked extensively on the development and implementation of the Polytrauma System of Care in the Veterans Health Administration.
Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.