Tag Archives: TBI

Disabled NCO vets find recipe to transitional success at bakery

NCO Journal staff report

Bakers have long since known the healing powers found in the sanctuary of the kitchen. Thanks to a work-study fellowship at Dog Tag Bakery in Washington, D.C., disabled veterans, their spouses and caregivers will discover baking’s therapeutic gifts as they take part in the program that will help them transition to the civilian workforce.

Retired Sgt. Josh Tredinnick bakes in the Dog Tag Bakery, Washington, D.C. The Dog Tag Bakery is operated by the administration and faculty of Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies and helps rehabilitate disabled veterans by training them in the art of baking.
Retired Sgt. Josh Tredinnick bakes in the Dog Tag Bakery, Washington, D.C. The Dog Tag Bakery is operated by the administration and faculty of Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies and helps rehabilitate disabled veterans by training them in the art of baking. (Photos by DoD)

Kyle Burns, senior program director for the fellowship program at Dog Tag Bakery, said the program operates on a three-pronged approach. The first is education, where they partner with Georgetown University to deliver a certificate in business administration through the university’s School of Continuing Studies. The second prong is rotations through various business roles at the bakery, such as management, human resources, marketing and customer service. The third prong is developing transition skills such as resume preparation, resolving conflict in the workplace and networking.The bakery opened last year, and its second set of students began their five-month course in June and graduate next week. Most of the students have post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

“It’s incredible to see the transition for all of them,” Burns said. “They start anxious and excited, and then they go through this journey. It’s just amazing to watch as they blossom and grow and begin to see how valuable the skill sets are and how needed they are in the civilian world — and they begin the see their place in it.”

Retired Sgt. Josh Tredinnick, a fellow at the Dog Tag Bakery, is training to become a baker through a work-study program conducted by Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies in Washington, D.C. (Photo by DoD)
Retired Sgt. Josh Tredinnick, a fellow at the Dog Tag Bakery, is training to become a baker through a work-study program conducted by Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies in Washington, D.C.

Occupational therapists say cooking classes are widely used in therapy, which aims to help people with mental or physical disorders maintain their daily living and working skills.In one 2004 study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, researchers found that baking classes helped boost confidence, increased concentration and provided a sense of achievement for 12 patients undergoing treatment in in-patient mental-health clinics. The patients took an average of two baking classes.

Success stories

Retired Sgt. Josh Tredinnick found the path to his future through the Dog Tag Bakery fellowship.

Tredinnick was injured in 2009 in Afghanistan when he was struck by an improvised explosive device. He underwent hip and back surgery and has a TBI and PTSD. He said his work in a veteran support office was fulfilling, but baking has always been beneficial for him.

“Baking has been very therapeutic as far as just getting me involved in a healthy activity,” he said. “What I’ve enjoyed most about it that you can take this set of ingredients, you can follow these steps, and you’re more than likely to come out with this final product every single time.

Tredinnick’s wife, Erica, enjoys his work at the bakery, especially when he brings home some of the French baguettes he bakes, he said.

“She’s been very supportive,” he said. “She’s excited for what happens next.”

Retired Sgt. Maj. Sedrick Banks plans to apply the business skills he learned through the fellowship toward a career as a life coach and in starting a nonprofit. Banks suffered a TBI in combat.

“I could go into all the training that Dog Tag has offered, but the biggest thing it’s helped me with is transitioning from a wounded warrior back into society,” Banks told the Washington Post. “It’s helped me recognize my capabilities, despite my injuries.”

Wanted: recruits

The professors provide handouts, resources online and a book to reinforce the material for those with PTSD and TBI issues.

“There are two fellowship programs each year,” Burns said. “… We are always looking for wounded warriors, sponsors and caregivers to be a part of those classes.”

The application is available on the Dog Tag Bakery’s website at http://www.dogtagbakery.com, she said, noting that recruits are being sought for the January class.

“We encourage anybody who thinks this might be a great program for them to please apply,” Burns said.

Shannon Collins of DOD News contributed to this report.

DOD partners to combat brain injury

U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command

Experts from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs gathered Aug. 14 at the Military Health System Research Symposium to discuss the future of research on mental health and traumatic brain injury.

Discussions turned toward the National Research Action Plan, or NRAP, which is the result of an executive order signed a year ago by President Barack Obama, to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members and military families.

The plan directs DOD and the VA to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education to share resources and complete certain goals.  One such goal to complete within the next year is the DOD, Center for Disease Control – Brain Trauma Foundation mild traumatic brain injury, or TBI/concussion classification project to clarify what is known and unknown about mild TBI and the critical gaps that need to be addressed.

“The National Research Action Plan creates a common roadmap for medical leadership to follow as we move forward to work on incredibly complex issues,” said Col. Douglas Hack, Combat Casualty Care Research program director at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, headquartered at Fort Detrick, Md.

“The National Research Action Plan demonstrates a dedication across multiple agencies to close critical research and care gaps, both in the military and civilian sector,” said Health Affairs Director of Medical Research Dr. Terry Rauch.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 2.5 million service members have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center data indicates there have been more than 250,000 cases of TBI in the military, between 2000 and 2012. However, more than 80 percent of these cases were the result of non-combat injuries.

“Clearly, we are not going to stop seeing traumatic brain injuries, even in times of no war,” Hack said.

The NRAP also addresses frequently co-occurring conditions, such as depression, substance abuse related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, including the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, and chronic pain, each of which can complicate the prevention and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, know as PTSD, TBI, and suicidal behaviors.

“The interrelationships between TBI, PTSD, and suicidality are complex, to say the least,” said Dr. Robert Ursano, director of the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.

“In fact, I think it was this war that highlighted these areas in relation to each other, as an opportunity for further investigation for research and treatment,” Ursano added.

Announced within the NRAP is also the creation of two joint research consortia, including the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD and the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium. The two consortia will be established within the next six months and are within the first phase of the NRAP.

The Consortium to Alleviate PTSD is a collaborative effort between the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio, San Antonio Military Medical Center and the Boston VA Medical Center, with the goal of developing the most effective diagnostic, prognostic, novel treatment, and rehabilitative strategies to treat acute PTSD and prevent chronic PTSD.

The Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium is a collaborative effort between Virginia Commonwealth University, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the Richmond VA Medical Center with the goal of examining the factors which influence the chronic effects of mild TBI and common comorbidities in order to improve diagnostic and treatment options.

A key point will be to further the understanding of the relationship between mild TBI and neurodegenerative disease.

“Mild traumatic brain injury is an area we need to continue to focus on, in terms of rapid evaluation, treatment and patient management,” said Katherine Helmick, deputy director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Most service members with TBI, she said, have a mild injury or concussion.

“With a mild TBI, most service members can have a full recovery,” she said.

In its first 12 months, the NRAP will focus on developing a more precise system to diagnose TBI and standardizing data on TBI and PTSD. Longer-term goals include confirming biomarkers for PTSD and TBI, identifying changes in brain circuitry after successful treatment, and exploring genetic risk factors.

“The plan lays out the next five years, but this is really a lifelong commitment,” said Dr. Timothy O’Leary, acting chief officer of the Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development. “That is the promise we make to our warfighters.”

Col. Dallas Hack (right), director of the U.S. Army's Combat Casualty Care Research Program, Dr. Terry Rauch, Health Affairs director of medical research, discuss veterans' mental health and traumatic brain injury research and care issues during the Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Aug. 14, 2013.
Col. Dallas Hack (right), director of the U.S. Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program, and Dr. Terry Rauch, Health Affairs director of medical research, discuss veterans’ mental health and traumatic brain injury research and care during the Military Health System Research SymposiumAug. 14, 2013, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Photo by Melissa Miller)

‘Beetle Bailey’ draws attention to PTSD, TBI

From the Army News Service:

Fans of the long-running comic strip “Beetle Bailey” saw a different approach June 16, when its creator, Mort Walker, chose to set aside his usual military-inspired humor to tackle a more serious subject.

That day’s three-panel strip showed Beetle Bailey experiencing the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD — including nightmares and trouble sleeping. The third panel reminds readers that “Post-traumatic stress can affect any Soldier.” That message from Walker helped kick off a public service campaign by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program to bring attention to the invisible wounds of war — post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury — during June, which is National PTSD Awareness Month.

The Home Base program, founded in 2009, has provided clinical treatment for more than 600 veterans and family members, and has educated more than 7,500 clinicians nationwide about PTSD and traumatic brain injury, known as TBI.

In a video he recorded, Walker, an 89-year-old Army veteran of World War II, discussed why he used Beetle Bailey to help shed light on this issue.

“I feel so sorry for the veterans that have that post-traumatic stress,” Walker said. “I would do anything to help them — even one, even one, if I could.

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Army initiates collaborative effort to address PTSD, TBI

From the Army News Service:

Over the last 12 years, many Soldiers have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with wounds, some visible and some not, said a leader in Army Medicine.

“The invisible wounds — post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — are just as damaging as the visible ones. They impact the families as well as the Soldiers,” said Brig. Gen. John M. Cho, a doctor, and deputy chief of staff for operations with Army Medical Command.

An Iraq war veteran himself, Cho spoke Saturday outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C., as part of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Day.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, or TBI, are not just military-specific issues, Cho said. “They deserve a national discussion.”

A big part of that discussion, he said, needs to focus on reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Besides a national discussion, Cho said agencies need to come together, both inside and outside the military, to learn more about identifying and treating PTSD and TBI, as well as preventing it in the first place.

As part of its collaborative effort, the Army is participating in a $60 million research study for TBI, sponsored by the National Football League, General Electric and Under Armour, he said.

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