I believe it was Albert Einstein who first said something to the effect that if you keep doing the same thing, you shouldn’t be surprised when you keep getting the same results. There is a lot of wisdom in those words!
In a recent survey conducted by the American Legion, results indicated that 59% of the 3,100+ veterans surveyed felt they saw no improvement following treatment for their PTSD or TBI, or in some cases, felt even worse. That’s appalling. With the negative impact PTSD and TBI have on life satisfaction, there are too many veterans who are not getting the help they need.
Another 30% of the respondents said they had stopped participating in their treatment plan before it officially ended because of the side effects of the medications being used. In some instances, veterans were being treated with up to 10 different drugs.
The most common problems were increased anger, sleep issues, depression and irritability. The stigma associated with having TBI and PTSD leave many veterans unwilling to seek treatment. Estimates indicate that only half of those who need care are willing to go into treatment, and those who already are in treatment aren’t getting enough to reach full recovery.
Complementary and alternative therapies were also considered. With 60% of the veterans who were treated using traditional methods still meeting the criteria for being diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, complementary therapies are receiving more attention.
Some of the suggestions for correcting the problem were:
• Development of an integrated, coordinated, comprehensive PTSD/TBI management strategy in recognition of the growing numbers of veterans who have the disorder
• Prioritizing the importance of research for PTSD treatments
• The DoD and VA need to coordinate their management strategies focusing on best practices and a measurement-based system based on long-term term interventions
• Caregivers must be included in treatment plans
As soldiers continue to return home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from PTSD and TBI, it’s time the VA and the DoD prioritized their plans for treating PTSD and TBI. Alternative treatments have been shown to be effective and those who have served deserve the best care possible.