Traumatic Brain Injury (T.B.I.) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) pose significant annual health risks in the United States and have become increasingly high-profile in recent years.(1, 2) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.7 million people are affected annually and over 30% of all injury-related deaths in this country are linked to T.B.I.s.(3) The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that 3.5% of adults in the United States suffer from PTSD.(4) New breakthroughs in research and medicine present a more optimistic outlook for T.B.I. and PTSD, and legislative efforts are helping to erase the stigma of these brain and mental health issues.
According to the New York Times, a new biomarker study could yield clues regarding the presence of T.B.I. and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the brains of military veterans. The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Draper Laboratory – a non-profit research institute – are currently seeking biomarkers for PTSD. Biomarkers are early signals used by physicians, other health care providers, and researchers to identify and track the progression of diseases. New York University (NYU) is now ready to join the research quest with private funding through the Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation. Federal funding for the research venture is desired, as well. The NYU study, led by Dr. Charles R. Marmar, will recruit 1,500 military veteran research participants. Subjects will be separated into five different groups with the following characteristics:
1. Control group (no T.B.I. or PTSD)
2. T.B.I sufferers
3. PTSD sufferers
4. T.B.I and PTSD sufferers
5. Those with depression but neither T.B.I. nor PTSD
Brain imaging and laboratory testing will be used to look for indicators of disease and disease progression with a goal of developing early detection devices for T.B.I. and PTSD. The hope is that if signs of diseases are detected earlier, treatment and prognostic outcomes will be better.
Escalating T.B.I. Risk for Young Athletes
“Gladiator Glory: Are the Health Risks of Football Worth It?” (Posted Originally on PolicyKina by Dorkina Myrick, M.D., Ph.D.) features highlights of a discussion with President Obama about the health risks of football in young athletes. In ‘Obama questions whether risks of football worth it for college players – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs,’ President Obama is concerned that college football players are excessively exposed to head injuries.(1, 2) He expressed that professional players are more mature and are more capable of absorbing the physical and financial consequences of severe head injuries.(3, 4) In fact, adolescence can extend into the early 20s. Some college players can still be considered pediatric patients.(5) Although it is more frequently observed with chronically ill children, pediatricians have been also known to treat healthy children into their early 20s as they transition into the adult medical care system.(6)
Concussion (T.B.I. Statistics)
An eye-opening Infographic communicates some pretty compelling statistics about concussions (T.B.I.s).
Working Toward the Elimination of T.B.I.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a forum several months ago on reducing T.B.I.
Video: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee recently held a hearing focused on mental health in the wake of the Newton, Connecticut, shootings. (1)
A hot topic of the hearing was the Mental Health Parity Law of 2008. However, a significant problem is that the law is not fully implemented. The Affordable Care Act will help remedy this by expanding access to mental health care. However, both Senators Harkin and Murray expressed concern regarding the delay in release of final rules on the Mental Health Parity Law – especially considering that enrollment in the health care exchanges for 2014 will begin in October of this year. (2, 3)
Despite these concerns, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration representative Pamela Hyde remained optimistic about the incorporation of expanded mental health services at minimal cost. (2)
Questions for the Blog Community: What are some other ways that T.B.I. and PTSD awareness can be raised? Do you believe great strides in research are being made in these areas, or is research progressing too slowly to make a real difference?
1. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Traumatic Brain Injury.” October 12, 2012. Website. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/traumatic-brain-injury/DS00552. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
2. Mayo Clinic Staff. ” Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” April 8, 2011. Website. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/DS00246. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
3. “Injury Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/statistics.html. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
4. ” Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Among Adults.” National Institute of Mental Health Website. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1ad_ptsd_adult.shtml. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
New Hope for T.B.I. and PTSD:
Dao, James. “Study Seeks Biomarkers for Invisible War Scars.” New York Times. February 6, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/us/study-seeks-biomarkers-for-ptsd-and-traumatic-brain-injuries.html?hp&_r=0. Website. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
Escalating T.B.I. Risk for Young Athletes
1. Liptak, Kevin. “Obama Questions Whether Risks of Football Worth It for College Players.” January 27, 2013. CNN Website. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/27/obama-questions-whether-risks-of-football-worth-it-for-college-players/?hpt=hp_t2.
2. “President Questions Safety of Football.” January 28, 2013. ESPN NFL Website. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8886528/president-barack-obama-not-sure-allow-son-play-football. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
3. Foer, Franklin and Hughes, Chris. “Barack Obama Is Not Pleased. The President on His Enemies, the Media, and the Future of Football.” January 27, 2013. New Republic Website. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112190/obama-interview-2013-sit-down-president#. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
4. Boden, Barry; Tacchetti, Robin; Cantu, Robert; Knowles, Sarah; Mueller, Frederick. ”Catastrophic Head Injuries in High School and College Football Players.” The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 35. 1075-1081. March 9, 2007. Print. July 2007. http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/35/7/1075.abstract. Online. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
5. “Age Limits of Pediatrics.” Pediatrics. 81:5. 736. May 1, 1988. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/81/5/736.abstract.
6. Reider-Demer, Melissa et al. ”When Is a Pediatric Patient No Longer a Patient.” Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 22:4. 267-269. 2008. Print. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/578513_2. Website. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
Concussion (T.B.I.) Statistics
“Concussion Statistics.” Infographic. American Health Journal Website. http://www.americanhealthjournal.com/blog/concussion-statistics/. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
Getting Help and Erasing the Stigma: Mental Health In Senate HELP Hearing
1. “Full Committee Hearing – Assessing the State of America’s Mental Health System.” Hearing. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. January 24, 2013. Website. http://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=b2048a10-5056-a032-529c-340d7ae5f237. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
2. Cunningham, Paige. “Newtown Renews Panel’s Focus on Mental Health.” Politico. January 25, 2013. Website. http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/newtown-renews-panels-focus-on-mental-health-86697.html?hp=r2. January 28, 2013.
3. “Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.” SAMHSA Website. http://www.samhsa.gov/healthReform/parity/. January 16, 2013.