(Jan. 11, 2012)
The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University is one of more than 100 medical schools nationwide working with First Lady Michelle Obama's Joining Forces project to better diagnose and treat post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury in service members and veterans.
Obama announced the collaborative effort today in Richmond, Va. Joining Forces, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine will work together to better train physicians and medical students to diagnose and treat the medical needs of veterans and their families.
Dr. Daniel Moore, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Brody School of Medicine, said ECU's focus in the project will be traumatic brain injury. North Carolina is the home of six military bases and a Coast Guard installation, and ECU sees patients from those bases.
"Our goal is to help share clinical knowledge with the military in the region via telemedicine conferences, visiting sites of clinical service (military here and our faculty visiting their sites) as well as an annual conference to gather the two groups together," Moore said.
The medical schools at Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are also participating in the project.
"I'm inspired to see our nation's medical schools step up to address this pressing need for our veterans and military families," Obama said in a news release. "By directing some of our brightest minds, our most cutting-edge research, and our finest teaching institutions toward our military families, they're ensuring that those who have served our country receive the first-rate care that they have earned."
ECU physicians at the Brody School of Medicine treat members of the military and veterans with traumatic brain injury, and scientists in other parts of the university are studying ways to help troops and veterans recover from traumatic brain injury and PTSD. The university's Operation Re-Entry
program is developing model ways to help injured veterans.
"I think it's about time we shed light and importance on [PTSD]," said Dr. Carmen Russoniello, a psychophysiologist in the ECU College of Health and Human Performance. A Vietnam veteran who dealt with PTSD himself, Russoniello said no standard way exists to diagnose, much less treat, the condition.
He has a pair of Department of Defense grants to study methods such as biofeedback to help troops with PTSD symptoms.
"It's not a mental health disorder," he said. "What occurs is that people's systems get shocked and don't know what normal is anymore."
Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, created Joining Forces to support veterans and military families. More information is available online at http://www.JoiningForces.gov