Have you noticed that your spouse, family member, or friend hasn’t been the same since they returned from deployment? Perhaps they’re experiencing mood changes, a change in sleeping patterns, constant headaches, or a complete change in demeanor. These are only some of the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and psychological health (PH) conditions. If you have a feeling they might have any sort of invisible wound, encourage them to speak to a primary care physician about what’s happening and about getting treatment at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, or NICoE. Anyone can empower someone to seek help, and seeking help should never be looked down upon.
So what do NICoE patients look like? They are active duty service members with combat and mission-related mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) with psychological health (PH) conditions refractory to conventional treatment.
In order to start the evaluation and treatment process at the NICoE, service members need to be referred by their primary care manager(s). The health care provider should send an email to NICoEReferral@health.mil and request a copy of the referral form. Once the referral has been received, a medical referral team at NICoE will review and discuss with providers to decide if the service member is suitable for the NICoE program. Generally, the evaluation and diagnosis period takes about four weeks.
In their own words, NICoE “…serves as a platform to facilitate an enhanced understanding about the complexities of TBI and PH whereby new knowledge, practices and sensitivities regarding prevention, evaluation, and treatment will be developed and disseminated.” With cutting edge technology, therapy programs (such as their art therapy program which has received quite a bit of fantastic media attention), and partnerships with programs like Warrior Canine Connection, their goal at NICoE is to find what works for each service member and help them receive treatment at their own pace, in their own way.
To get the family involved, NICoE has a Family Services Program, a Spouses Group and Individual Family appointments. At the Spouses Group, NICoE spouses receive support as caregivers, get to share personal experiences, and have the opportunity to problem solve with other spouses. In the Individual Family appointments, children get a chance to attend some of a NICoE patient’s appointments, such as work with therapy dogs or art therapy. Even at discharge, the service member and his or her family attends a discharge conference where a summary of findings and recommendations are presented. Having family support is always beneficial to a service member going through treatment, which is why family gets to be so involved in the entire process at NICoE.
To help us build more centers around the United States, donate to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. 100% of your donation goes right to building these centers so we can help as many service members with TBI and PH conditions as we can.
Posted on May 14 2015 in Blog