Military Brain Injury Rehab Program Returns More Than 70% of Patients to Full-Time, Active Duty Status in First Year

Aug 07, 2007, 01:00 ET from Scripps Health

    ENCINITAS, Calif., Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A brain injury rehabilitation
 program for active-duty military personnel -- many of whom sustained their
 injuries in Iraq from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs -- has proved
 to be a successful treatment model as it turns one year old this summer.
     (Photo: )
     Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Marine Corps Base Camp
 Pendleton have teamed to develop an outpatient day treatment program that
 meets the recovery needs of combat-injured military patients with closed
 brain injuries. The program is geared toward helping troops rehabilitate so
 they can achieve their individual goals, whether it's returning to
 full-time, active-duty status, or assimilating to the private sector.
     Of the 31 patients who have completed the program to date, 22 have
 returned to full-time duty. Other patients who have completed the program
 are pursuing an education or career outside of the military. Housed on the
 campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, the program continues to
 accept new military patients.
     The partnership is believed to be the nation's only "full-service"
 outsourced program between the military and a private health care provider
 that treats closed-brain injuries of active-duty military patients on an
 outpatient basis. Patients in the Scripps program have access to a wide
 range of specialists not readily available at other programs, including
 physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists,
 recreational therapists, neurologists, psychiatrists and other specialists.
     "Blast-related brain injuries have become the signature injury of the
 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Michael Lobatz, M.D., chief of staff at
 Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. "This program is an example of how
 community hospitals can help fill the gaps by providing specialized care
 where the military may not have the capacity or particular expertise."
     The Scripps program includes specialized activities such as
 military-style calisthenics, martial arts, boxing, jogging, memory
 exercises with military terminology and video games. While details vary,
 patients generally will attend therapy for six hours a day, three to four
 days a week, for three months or longer. U.S. troops are initially screened
 by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center upon their return from
 combat overseas and are authorized for treatment by their military
     Lance Cpl. Wilson Otero of Camp Pendleton entered the Scripps program
 after suffering a traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb explosion
 while he provided security for convoys in Iraq. As a result of his injury,
 he has experienced migraine headaches, sleep disturbances and partial loss
 of feeling in his extremities.
     After months of intensive occupational, physical and speech therapy
 sessions, Otero says he's noticed progress. "The pain is getting under
 control," said Otero, who is making plans for life outside the military.
 "I'm planning to get out and use my brain to go to school."
     Founded in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps
 Health is a non-profit community health system based in San Diego, Calif.

SOURCE Scripps Health