August 6, 2012

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced high numbers of traumatic brain injuries from the intense nature of explosive warfare in those conflicts. The Indiana University School of Medicine reports about 180,000 such vets received “mild to moderate brain injury” and continue to suffer from:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Attention deficits
  • Reliving trauma

Other mild TBI symptoms can include memory loss, balance problems and light sensitivity.

Dr. Jacob Kean at IU says that perceptions of brain injuries are changing in that it really is a chronic, degenerative and lifelong problem. To improve ongoing TBI treatment and patient support, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awarded a “telehealth” research grant to Dr. Kean that began July 1.

The project seeks to develop information technology that can assess how well veterans are taking care of their mild TBI conditions at home. As it is difficult for some vets to travel regularly to VA medical facilities, TBI self-management is important and logical.

The new assessment tool could help doctors better instruct their TBI patients in individualized self-care plans and ultimately improve remote treatment. This research expands the practice of telehealth from remote measurement of objective symptoms like blood pressure or pulse into remote assessment of “symptoms related to symptoms and emotions,” according to Dr. Kean.

Five VA hospitals will be used for system testing.

Source: FierceHealthIT, “VA, Indiana University to study telehealth impact on brain injuries,” Dan Bowman, June 29, 2012

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