Archive for the ‘Military Medicine’ category

IBRF – The International Brain Research Foundation

April 23rd, 2010

Popular Science in their March 2010 Edition published an article entitled “Waking Up the Brain Dead.”  the sub-title read “A Cocktail of Therapies Jump-Starts Patients’ Brains.”  Then, the May 2010 Ladies Home Journal is publishing an article entitled, “World Leaders in Translational Clinical Research for Alzheimer’s Disease,” (The International Brain Research Foundation – IBRF; in November of 2009, The Clinical Neuropsychologist published an article “The New Neuroscience Frontier: Promoting Neuroplasticity and Brain Repair in Traumatic Brain Injury” that was co-authored by at least two members of the IBRF, Dr. Philip DeFina and his associate Dr. Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, regarding the future of treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Philip De Fina, M.D.With an 84% success rate in waking up patients from deep, irreversible, persistent vegetative state comas traditional neurologists, neurosurgeons, and neuroscientists have called these “wake ups” flukes, but once you have nearly 45 flukes, the question becomes, “Are they real?”  As the Popular Science article states, Dr. DeFina and his team apply already approved medications, electrical stimulation, and nutraceuticals to the patient, but they do it in a virtual cocktail that has had a dramatic impact on these patients.

After having spent several days working with the folks at the International Brain Research Foundation, my personal heart strings began making their own music.  Not unlike the work that we did at my previous employer, DeFina’s Research Foundation is blazing new trails, not necessarily by inventing all new methodologies, but by applying new approaches to  well-established and FDA-approved drugs and protocols.  They are making unbelievable progress with highly nuanced protocols that will potentially change neuroscience forever.

In typical “small science” fashion, the traditional approach to these patients has been to apply one protocol at a time, and when that fails, move on to the next.  Dr. DeFina appropriately points out that this unconventional approach is effective because it goes to the source of numerous highly complex brain centers.  He asked me to imagine the Wright brothers trying to fly an airplane one “part” at a time.  “Orville, do you think this propeller will fly?”  Of course, that concept is absurd, but that is an appropriate description of how  Traumatic Brain Injuries are currently addressed.

Image from Popular Scince -  Waking the Brain DeadNearly a dozen years ago, when we were beginning our work at the research institute, it was obvious that the reason that cancer had not been cured was because science takes a very laser-like approach to everything;  let’s call it small science.  When we determined that we should have a pristine, highly-annotated collection of specially-collected breast tissue, that we should have a central data repository, and that, heaven forbid, we should have ensemble-type multi-disciplinary teams of scientists and MDs working together, it was as if we had suggested that all science be trashed.  It was so controversial.  To think that one scientist did not keep total  and complete control over all of the data generated by his work.  It was heresy.

Bottom line?  I believe that the International Brain Research Foundation will have us rethinking our living wills not to many years from now as they continue to awaken deep, irreversible coma victims and help them find their lives again.   Not unlike the activities at the Windber Research Institute, where the “Platinum Quality Tissue” is currently being used to map the breast genome.  We are looking into the future of science, and it is very exciting indeed.

IBRF Banner - Dr. Philip De Fina - Nick Jacobs - HealingHospitals.org - Sunstone Consulting

The very difficult news is that the IBRF is totally and completely dependent upon donations and grants for their work, and traditional granting organizations do not favor nontraditional approaches to curing disease and saving lives.   So, after you do your due diligence, if you are as moved as I was, check out the IBRF’s website (including their excellent videos) at www.ibrfinc.org, and help them change history.

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Who Let Us Down?

June 12th, 2009

Recent news:

WASHINGTON, DC James von Brunn, the white supremacist who allegedly opened fire Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., suggest that a lifetime of hatred had reached a critical mass. The 88-year-old is charged with murdering a security guard at the building.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  —  A Muslim convert charged with fatally shooting an American soldier at a military recruiting center said Tuesday that he doesn’t consider the killing a murder because U.S. military action in the Middle East made the killing justified.

NBC News is reporting that at Camp Liberty, the main U.S. military base in Iraq, which is located near the Baghdad International Airport, a yet unnamed serviceman walked into a “stress clinic” in the camp, opened first, killing at least five. Contrary to earlier reports, the soldier did not kill himself but is now in custody.

When things like this happen, we all stop and ask what went wrong?  In two of the three situations, we had relatives or friends nearby.  My daughter-in-law’s friend was working at the museum, and my son-in-law is stationed beside the stress clinic at Camp Liberty.

I’ll never forget when the Reagan administration began the movement to close down  mental hospitals.  A friend worked at the mental hospital nearby.  We had had a rash of threatening letters, some very upsetting encounters, and a several other incidents in the community when this friend said to me, “You know, we had 2,000 inpatients and 500 outpatients at the mental hospital.  Now we have 2,500 outpatients. Nobody’s left town, and when they don’t take their meds, there can be problems.”

Pfc. Joe Dwyer carried a young Iraqi boy who was injured during a heavy battle between the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry Regiment and Iraqi forces near the village of Al Faysaliyah, Iraq, on March 25, 2003. Dwyer died of an apparent overdose at his home in North Carolina on June 29, 2008. Photo credit: Warren Zinn / Military Times file
Pfc. Joe Dwyer carried a young Iraqi boy injured during a heavy battle between the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment and Iraqi forces near the village of Al Faysaliyah, Iraq, on March 25, 2003. Dwyer died of an apparent overdose at his home in North Carolina on June 29, 2008. Photo credit: Warren Zinn / Military Times file

When you consider that there are about 6.5 billion people in the world, if only 5% of the total people living on this planet are suffering from some type of mental illness, we’re potentially talking about the equivalent of the entire population of the United States with some mental health issues. ( Sorry if  my math is slightly off.)  Point is, that’s a lot of people.  So, what are we doing for them?

The Rand Corp. released a study of returning service members and is estimating nearly 20 percent of the 1.6 million who have served since this war began will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That is nearly 320,000 PTSD sufferers – more than the population of Pittsburgh.

White supremacists are such old news.  We have had to hear about their beliefs over and over during the past sixty years or so.  Maybe when they are arrested,  as James von Brunn had been more than once, it would help them to serve their time doing community service as tour guides at Auschwitz?

Our soldiers, however, are an entirely different story.  We have spent the past several years meeting with experts in mental health who do know what to do for them.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that this care is not being rendered.    The military has strict guidelines on the treatment of PTSD, but, if you ask our returning soldiers how faithfully these guidelines are implemented, the general answer is that “There’s not enough money to provide this care for our Guardsmen and women.”

We don’t pay our school bus drivers a living wage, and they are in charge of our most precious loved ones.  We couldn’t afford to send armour with our early troops deployed to Iraq and have had more amputees than in any war since the Civil War, and now we don’t have enough money to treat PTSD.

That type of rationalization makes me tired.  We have enough money, we just don’t have our priorities and incentives in line.

depression female young woman african american black mental health Nick Jacobs

Did anyone notice that James was boiling over with insanity?  How about Mohammed?  Our PTSD patient in Iraq knew that he was in troble, but we busted him, and then put him beside a driver with a gun on his hip.  That weapon became his killing tool.

This blog was not intended to be depressing.  It is intended to reemphasize that we in healthcare should be about caring. It is about teaching caring, love and respect.  It is about helping those who need help, and detaining those who won’t accept that help.   We have drugs, but, as the Virginia Tech shootings demonstrated, in certain phenotypes the receptors are not there to allow those drugs to be absorbed into the body.

Mental health help has a long way to go, and we all need to be part of that journey.  Telepsychiatry, PTSD clinics, screenings for radicals?  Surely someone cares.

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