IFHF Breaks Ground on 2 new $11-Million Centers to treat TBI and PTS in America’s wounded military service members

Fort Belvoir, VA & Camp LeJeune, NC (June 13, 2012) – Thousands of service members living with head injuries from exposure to IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to get the treatment they need when two new centers are opened at Fort Belvoir, VA and Camp LeJeune, NC.  With the groundbreakings today for the new National Intrepid Centers of Excellence (NICoE), there is new hope for those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

Gen Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps helps us break ground in Camp Lejeune, NC

GEN Lloyd James Austin III, U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff assists in the ground breaking at Fort Belvoir, VA.

To be funded and built by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) – which also announced a $100 million fundraising program to support the effort – the first two centers and others that will follow are being located at military bases and medical centers around the country to provide medical care for service members without having to separate them from their units or leave their families for extended periods of treatment.  This proximity to family and friends is expected to enhance their care and rehabilitation.

Each of the new construction, $11 million, 25,000 sq. ft., NICoE Satellite Centers are set to be completed and gifted to the Department of Defense in approximately three years.

The design and mission of the Satellite Centers are based on the original NICoE, opened in 2010 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.  Operated by the Department of Defense, NICoE is the most advanced facility of its kind in the country, and is the center of the Armed Forces’ efforts in researching, diagnosing and treating TBI, PTS and related injuries sustained by military personnel. Hundreds of American Service Members have received some form of diagnosis or treatment from NICoE in the last two years.

“Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress are invisible wounds that so many of our men and women in uniform are suffering from as they return from service in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Arnold Fisher, Honorary Chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  “They struggle with the most basic elements of life: how to tie shoelaces or remembering their spouse’s name.  It is our duty as Americans to care for these men and women who have worn the cloth of our nation in battle, and sacrificed a piece of themselves for our freedom.  We need to make every resource and method of treatment available to them to speed their recovery.”

“Although American combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, the suffering of our wounded heroes is not,” said Richard Santulli, Chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. “TBI can afflict soldiers for years after their injury and can have devastating effects on their ability to work, interact with family, and function in society.  Extreme injury can lead to suicide, which claims far too many of our heroic veterans.  Our nation owes the best care possible to those who have sacrificed so much for us, and NICoE and the Satellite Centers will help us fulfill that responsibility.”

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma or head injury disrupts the function of the brain. Common causes of TBI include damage caused by explosive devices, falls and vehicle or motorcycle accidents. Most reported TBI among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom service members and veterans has been traced back to Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, used extensively against Coalition Forces. Symptoms can appear immediately or weeks to months following the injury.

Each NICoE Satellite Center will incorporate:

  • Intake/Clinic area: psychiatric testing, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, neuro psych testing rooms, and exam rooms.
  • Physical Therapy: open gym layout with physical therapy equipment including adjustable mat tables, parallel bars, treadmills, alter-G gait trainer, and other therapy items.
  • Sleep Lab: one sleep room, equipped with a sleep system and ambient therapy music, and a control room with a computer monitoring system.
  • Central Park: a unique and multi-purpose environment to support physical therapy and family activities, with features including a therapeutic labyrinth for meditation and focusing exercises and a natural setting with trees, shrubs, and water elements.
  • Family Room: providing a reprieve space for patients and family to spend time together and take a break from the clinical treatment regime.

“Recovery from brain injury varies by individual and degree of damage. Although little can be done to reverse the initial damage, immediate medical treatment is essential for stabilizing, preventing further damage and beginning physical and mental rehabilitation,” said Dr. James Kelly, Director of NICoE in Bethesda. “Often severely TBI patients will require surgery to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels and bruised brain tissue, as well as any other complications due to brain trauma. For many TBI sufferers, there is medication and alternative medicines which can mitigate symptoms such as headaches, chronic pain, behavioral problems, depression, seizures and chronic pain, once the extent of the injury is diagnosed.”

“Fort Belvoir’s role in providing medical care and treatment has grown
dramatically in recent years and this center will further enhance the medical community’s ability to effectively treat the ‘invisible’ wounds of war,” said Gen. Lloyd Austin, Vice Chief of Staff, United States Army.  We are proud to be partnering with and grateful to all those who have helped to make this NICoE Satellite Center program a reality.”

“Our greatest honor at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is providing safe, quality and compassionate care to our nation’s heroes – the men, women and their families who selflessly serve our country,” said Col. Susan Annicelli, hospital commander. “This gift from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and its generous donors will help us expand our joint and shared commitment to heal the invisible wounds of war in a collaborative healing environment.”

“The Marine Corps is honored to welcome one of the first National Intrepid Center
of Excellence Satellite Centers to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, the largest amphibious base on the East Coast,” said General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. “Building the center here will enable us to provide localized advanced research and care for our Marines and Sailors suffering from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other related afflictions.”

“Our American wounded service members deserve the highest level of care we can give them, and we must do our duty to see that they get it,” said Bill White, CEO of Constellation Group, which has been retained by IFHF to mount the fundraising effort for these two centers and the ones that will follow. “These centers will do amazing work for the men and women who have worn the cloth of our nation and sacrificed in battle.”

The architect for the project is SmithGroup, who was also responsible for designing the NICoE and the Center for the Intrepid, an advanced rehabilitation center for amputee and burn victims developed by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in San Antonio, Texas.

“These facilities will enhance the already exceptional care provided at NICoE – which are available nowhere else in the world,” said Phil Tobey, Senior Vice President of SmithGroup. “Every element of the building’s designs will be acutely attuned to the multiple physical, sensory and wayfinding needs of TBI patients.”

Posted on June 13 2012 in News

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