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Basic Retraining

Basic ReTraining Video Transcript

Petty Officer Third Class Dustin “Doc” Kirby: I always felt like I was running through the woods in the dark. You know, when you are running in the dark it takes longer. But with the right tools—say a flashlight—you can get through the woods a lot easier, a lot safer, a lot better.

Title: Basic ReTraining

Title card: In February 2008 East Carolina University and the United States Marine Corps began the Training for Optimal Performance program at ECU’s Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic.

Title card: Biofeedback training allows wounded soldiers to recognize and control the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the signature wounds of the Iraq War.

Staff Sergeant Jason Jensen: I had no idea that this type of training existed. When my case manage put it out to me I was very open minded. You know, I’ll try anything. I remember the first time I came up here, I was very impressed with Dr. R because they weren’t fumbling around going “Yeah, maybe this is this, and this is that.” No he was very educated, knew what was going on, you know, the system was already in place, the technology was already in place, already working to improve the technologies.

Dr. Carmen Russoniello: This type of approach is not only novel in this kind of an intervention, but in medicine in general. In fact, what we do is a whole different paradigm, it’s more of an education paradigm, where a person learns about themselves and how to control themselves, rather than taking something to do it for you.

Jennifer Parks: Here at the biofeedback lab we start with a group session which lasts about 20 or 30 minutes. We touch base with the Marines, see how they are doing. Then we go into different training sessions which involve 20 minutes of EEG training, which is brainwave training, heart rate variability, and also just relaxation training in which we use skin conductance and respiration rate. At the end of the day, many of the Marines do virtual reality training.

Dustin Kirby: fortunately, I’ve never lost a marine like anywhere, doing anything, and when I was playing that game, you know, we couldn’t figure out the controls or whatever, and a guy died the first time. So I was like, “No.” And so I started to get this feeling, this fear of failure. It helps you realize what is going on inside of you, and shows you how you can move onto that resolution that lets it go.

Sergeant Christopher Soldano: Ever since I started the program, started the meditation been working with the program, I’ve noticed that, you know, my counseling sessions are a lot less intense. My medications, I don’t necessarily need them as much. I’m not saying it’s replacing everything, and that this is the complete answer, but I think we are moving in the right direction. And it’s done leaps and bounds for me.

Matthew Fish: When we first start training with the Marines we try to get them involved at least twice a week. So when they come here not only are the getting training, but they are getting trained where they live and where they are most effective.

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Siebenthal: East Carolina reached out to us. They are a member of this community—and just like the rest of America, they want to do something for folks that have sacrificed greatly. So we see this as a beautiful opportunity to go another direction and we see if it works.

Dr. Russoniello: These stories are the most important to me. But as we know we need to have data to back that up. And what we are hoping to do is now formalize this, capture the data, demonstrate its efficacy. This little bit that we are doing here, could have a very significant impact on how we do things in the future.