Mary Alexis Iaccarino, MD: The Important Role of Family in Veterans' Treatment

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.

Dr. Mary Alexis Iaccarino is director, Clinical TBI and Brain Health Services, Home Base.

For information about treatments for brain injury please visit The Treatment Hub.

The family is an extremely important part of treatment. First of all, they know the veteran best. So they are often the first ones to recognize a change. “My loved one went away to war, and when they came back, they looked different. And I noticed it first.” So, they often are pushing their loved one, their veteran loved one, to come to treatment. And they can provide phenomenal collateral information on what that person’s experiencing at home, what they look like, where their difficulties are, and also what they looked like prior to all this exposure. So families are a very important part of identifying injury, and then also can really push someone to treatment, and support them through that treatment. Another important part about families is helping family members understand the injury and understand the treatments. So, at Home Base when you come for a two-week intensive treatment program, a family member actually accompanies you for several days. And there’s an entire family program that goes on, which teaches the family member about the treatment interventions, about the medications their loved one might be taking, about the symptoms they might have so that they can better support their loved one through treatment for PTSD or TBI. BrainLine is powered in part by Wounded Warrior Project to honor and empower post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families.

Posted on BrainLine September 28, 2021. Reviewed September 28, 2021.

About the author: Mary Alexis Iaccarino, MD

Mary Alexis Iaccarino, MD, is a board-certified physiatrist with sub-specialty training in brain injury medicine. Her clinical and research areas of interest include diagnostic and treatment strategies in mild traumatic brain injury including blast and sport-related concussion. Dr. Iaccarino joined the Home Base team in 2016 as a brain injury physiatrist for the Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) and outpatient TBI program. Her goal is to provide comprehensive, evidenced-based brain injury care to veterans through multidisciplinary collaboration with psychology, neuropsychology, physical therapy, psychiatry, and other specialists. She specializes in the treatment of physical, cognitive, and behavioral deficits that occur after brain injury including headaches, pain, dizziness and vision symptoms, sleep difficulties, fatigue, concentration, and memory problems.

Headshot of Dr. Mary Alexis Iaccarino in a salmon button-down shirt