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Military Connection: DOD Awards $2 Million Grant for PTSD Research

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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded a $2 million grant to RTI International, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice.

The DOD grant will allow RTI International to lead the first randomized, controlled trials of a procedure to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms by injecting an anesthetic into the nerve tissue at the base of the patient’s neck. Initial research has found basis to believe that the procedure, called Stellate Ganglion Block, has the potential to relieve PTSD symptoms. The procedure is intended to block the sympathetic nerve system in order to relieve the physical stress that is associated with instances of PTSD symptoms. In other words, this procedure combats the “fight or flight” feeling that is associated with PTSD.

Stellate Ganglion Block has been in use for about 100 years, mostly for treating chronic pain of the limbs. Only in the last few years has the procedure been used as a treatment for PTSD symptoms. The use of Stellate Ganglion Block is not being proposed as a cure for PTSD; raher, a way to alleviate symptoms. The traumatic experiences that caused the disorder will not be erased from the PTSD sufferer’s mind. But the procedure will help relieve the anxiety that the memories of those traumatic experiences cause.

As part of RTI International’s three year study, three military hospitals were chosen: Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany; Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii; and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, in California. The three facilities were chosen because they had previously used Stellate Ganglion Block to treat PTSD, on a limited basis. The study will enroll 250 active duty service members who have been diagnosed with PTSD.

For the study, participants will receive two injections, two weeks apart. The injections will be followed by mental health assessments that will be conducted at weeks 4, 6 and 8. The assessments will include a qualitative component to gather impressions of the procedure from the patients, their families, behavioral therapists and psychiatrists. The study will also use a placebo control group that will receive injections of saline.

Unfortunately, PTSD is an affliction that is rampant in the military community. It has been estimated that as many as 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffer from the disorder. For the most part, prescribed treatments for PTSD included a lot of prescription drugs. The heavy use of drugs does little to treat the patient, and more often than not leads to other mental and physical health problems, including substance abuse of these very same prescribed drugs.

Proponents of Stellate Ganglion Block claim that the procedure is a low-risk injection that has very few negative side effects.

Our service members and Veterans deserve the very best treatment for whatever ails them. If any new procedure or method of care arises that could improve the lives of those who serve, then those procedures and methods should be given a chance.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: DOD Awards $2 Million Grant for PTSD Research: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Canadian PTSD Study Findings: By Debbie Gregory

Canadian researchA recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry claims that having a history of mental illness puts military service members at higher risk of posttraumatic stress disorder after a combat mission.

The study was based on data collected during more than 16,000 post-deployment interviews with Canadian service members who served in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2012. The study found that over 10% of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan had at least one common mental health problem after returning, including depression and PTSD.

The Canadian research also found a notable connection between service members who had previously been treated for mental health issues and post-deployment mental health problems. But the researchers claim that it would be wrong to screen military personnel based on previous mental health treatment, because many other military personnel who had previously sought mental health treatment were in good post-deployment mental health.

The researchers say that additional inquiries should be made in order to better understand why some military personnel with risk factors, including a history of mental health problems, did well after deployment to Afghanistan, while others did not.

These findings differ from earlier studies conducted by research teams from the U.S. The Canadian study found that Reservists were at no greater risk of PTSD and other mental health problems than regular forces. U.S. research found that Reservists were at a greater risk for PTSD and depression.

One interesting finding in the study was that French-speaking Canadians were less likely to suffer from PTSD and other combat stress related mental health issues than English-speaking Canadians.

The Canadian study also concluded that longer or multiple deployments did not appear to be risk factors. But exposure to combat had a strong correlation to later mental health problems.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp, Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Canadian PTSD Study Findings: By Debbie Gregory