Quick, convenient and confidential process for assessing risk of "invisible wounds" outlined to Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans and their families
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Military service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars attending this week's 6th annual Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute at Walt Disney World are being given access to two web-based screening tools that enable them to quickly and confidentially determine if they might have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or have Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). The three day event is being co-presented by the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes and The American Legion.
The online tools allow users to anonymously answer a series of questions – about 100 for the TBI screening, and 40 for the PTS – relating to symptoms they may be experiencing, such as sleep disturbances, irritability, hyper-vigilance, and difficulty concentrating. The Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire (BISQ) was recently developed by Dr. Wayne A. Gordon of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, while the PTS tool is a digital version of a widely accepted screening device that was created specifically for use at the Conference and other planned outreach programs.
At the end of each survey, participants immediately receive a computer-generated report based on their responses. Those who are found to be "at risk" of either one or both conditions are advised to seek further evaluation from a qualified health care professional.
During a presentation on the second day of the Conference, which is being jointly conducted by the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes and The American Legion, Dr. Mark Wiederhold, a leading authority on PTS, encouraged attendees to invest the approximately 30 minutes it takes to complete both screenings.
"It's critical that we raise awareness of, and promote education about, these 'invisible wounds,' which are as serious as any other medical condition," he said. According to a RAND Corporation study, Wiederhold noted, 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are estimated to be suffering from PTS, with the likelihood of it increasing from 10 to 30 percent between a service member's first and third deployments. TBI is equally prevalent, he added, pointing out that it was diagnosed in 41 percent of those being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC for blast-related physical injuries.
The importance of the screenings was further reinforced for conference attendees by another presenter, long-time NBA referee Bob Delaney, who shared details about his own battle with PTS as a result of having worked from 1975-78 as an undercover officer for the New Jersey State Police, investigating organized crime.
Like members of the military, law enforcement officers "are very good at repressing normal reactions to fear. With a uniform on, we feel like we can leap tall buildings in a single bound – as if we can handle anything. But the reality is, we are human and have emotions, so if you experience traumatic events, it's going to come out somehow, some way," said Delaney, who recounted his story in the book, "Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob," written with Dave Scheiber.
Now working on a second book, to be titled "Surviving the Shadows: A Journey Into Post-Traumatic Stress," Delaney noted that his symptoms for PTS were "off the charts" before he received help for his condition through peer counseling. Referring to the new online screening tools, he added, "I wish this was available to me when I was coming out from undercover work. I wouldn't have felt as though I was an island unto myself."
The Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute, which is being attended by about 500 guests, including wounded service members and their families, will be continuing until Thursday, Dec. 16. For more information, contact the Coalition offices at (914) 432-5400 or visit its website at www.saluteheroes.org.
SOURCE The American Legion