Treating Sleep Disorders In People With Traumatic Brain Injury May Not Eliminate Symptoms

ScienceDaily (Apr. 15, 2009) — A new study is the first to assess the effectiveness of treating sleep disorders in adults with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Results indicate that treatment may result in the objective resolution of the sleep disorder without improvements in daytime sleepiness or neuropsychological function.

Results show that in brain-injured subjects with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), three months of treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy dramatically reduced the severity of OSA from 31.4 to 3.8 apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep; however, there was no demonstrable improvement in measures of daytime sleepiness. Participants experienced no significant changes in measures of mood, quality of life and cognitive performance after treatment for a sleep disorder.

According to principal investigator Richard J. Castriotta, M.D., director of the division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, researchers were not surprised by the fact that patients with sleep disorders had more severe injuries; however the lack of improvement in excessive sleepiness and neuropsychological testing after treatment was unexpected.

“The TBI patients with sleep apnea and no improvement in sleepiness may have had a combination of pre-existing sleep apnea and posttraumatic hypersomnia, causing sleepiness after the injury,” said Castriotta. “These patients may need stimulant therapy in addition to CPAP in order to improve symptoms.”


Veterans groups moving into nursing homes

updated 12:23 p.m. ET, Sun., April 12, 2009

Goal is to recruit and retain more members by making attendance easier

TRUMBULL, Conn. – Milton Pierce’s voice reverberated across the room as the former World War II bomber pilot called the roll at his monthly American Legion meeting.

It was much like any other gathering of the roughly 15,000 posts nationwide, except for one critical difference: Pierce and his fellow members were only steps away from the comfort of their own homes.

The 90-year-old veteran and his compatriots live at Middlebrook Farms, an assisted living community in Trumbull, Conn., where they are members of the state’s first American Legion post stationed in a nursing care complex.

As the nation’s veterans age and become less mobile, groups such as the Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are trying to recruit and retain more members by making it easier for them to reach meetings.

Survey: Vets Supportive of Genetic Cohort Study

April 14, 2009
By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A large number of US military veterans may be likely to support and participate in a large cohort genetic study conducted through the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a new survey conducted by the Genetics and Public Policy Center.

The VA has proposed establishing a database of genetic information from analyzing patients’ DNA from blood samples and linking it to a variety of information in the participants’ electronic health records.

According to the GPPC survey, 71 percent of respondents said that they would “definitely or probably serve as a research subject if asked,” and 84 percent believed that the database would “lead to improved treatments, cures, or lives saved for veterans.”

GPPC also found that 83 percent of the survey’s respondents believed that such a database should “definitely” or “probably” be created.

The VA created the Genomic Medicine Program in 2006 to study the use of genetic information to improve the health of veterans. According to GPPC, the VA believes that the genetic database it has proposed “would be a powerful tool for researchers seeking links between genes, environmental factors, and health outcomes.”

Reality Grows Amid Fantasy

April 15, 2009

Signal Connections: AFCEA

When cyberspace emerged from William Gibson’s writings to become a part of everyday life, it still was defined by real-world criteria. When online businesses succeeded, it was because entrepreneurs built them according to rational business models. Large corporations and governments tailored their Web sites to provide known public services. Information flocked to the virtual realm, but again it was structured and defined by textual means dating back to Herr Gutenberg. Now, however, the virtual world is playing a leading role in redefining the real world. Unlike the traditional model of exploration leading to exploitation, cyberspace operates in reverse. Nearly two decades of cyberspace exploitation now is leading to exploration into new types of activities that are changing real-world processes.

The very nature of information itself is changing with new capabilities. People no longer want information packaged and presented to them in a structured format. Instead, they want to be given menus from which they will select the information they want regardless of format. In many cases, users can program those menus to package the type of information they want for delivery. This is more a sociological change than one of mere logistics. However, even that change pales in comparison with the overall sociological effect of cyberspace. Explorers are discovering that the way they best exploit information depends on how they interact with each other.

The effect on the intelligence community is one of the greatest examples of this widespread cyberspace-impelled change. The community is abandoning the longstanding tenet of need-to-know and is embracing the need-to-share. Its two-year-old Intellipedia has fomented a revolutionary change across the community, and this change is being embraced and enlarged upon by users. Virtual collaboration is becoming the rule rather than the exception. The nature of—and the relationship among—intelligence collection, analysis, processing and dissemination is evolving with this paradigm shift both inside and outside of cyberspace. And, some of the biggest potential changes may be occurring in the realm that personifies the separate reality of cyberspace: Second Life. People now are flocking to this virtual realm to build the kinds of lives they’ve always wanted in the types of places they’ve always sought. But this isn’t just a digital version of Fantasy Island. It’s a venue for exploring new ideas and concepts set in a framework reminiscent of the real world—but not tied to it.

VA secretary embraces ‘personal calling’ of serving veterans

by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

4/13/2009 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki is a no-nonsense leader who wants veterans to measure his performance and that of the department he leads through concrete results, not rhetoric.

“Veterans have been given a lot of promises over a bunch of years, and I have assured them that they should measure us by our accomplishments, not just the promises,” Secretary Shinseki said.

“We have some things to deliver,” he added.

Less than two months into the job, Secretary Shinseki is focused on transforming VA into a “people-centric, results-oriented and forward-looking” department.

“We have committed to putting veterans at the focal point of all that we do here,” he said. “There is only one reason we exist, and that is to ensure that our veterans who have earned benefits and services get them quickly, and that it is accessible to them. It is logical, it is fair and consistent.”

For Secretary Shinseki, a 38-year Soldier who retired in 2003 as Army chief of staff, the mission is extremely personal.

Many of the veterans he now serves were “the truly unbelievable heroes of World War II” who returned from Europe and the Pacific to provide leadership for the United States, including the military, he said.

“We all stand on their shoulders,” Secretary Shinseki said. “We do things today professionally that they taught us how to do.”

But other veterans under VA’s charge served alongside Secretary Shinseki or under his command — in Vietnam and elsewhere during his military career. For others, Secretary Shinseki was the one who issued the deployment orders that sent them into harm’s way.

“So this is an opportunity for me to give back to the ones I went to war with, and the men and women I sent to war,” he said. “It’s a way to give back, and I am honored to have that opportunity.”

Secretary Shinseki’s vision of giving back to America’s veterans got a solid endorsement yesterday as President Barack Obama, flanked by Secretary Shinseki and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, reiterated his commitment to the nation’s veterans.

Bills Target Soldiers’ Mental Woes

April 18, 2009
Knight Ridder/Tribune

El Paso, TX. – State senators this week advanced bills that would provide a support network for combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological problems. State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed a bill that would direct the Department of State Health Services to set up a peer counseling program.

Legislation approved by the Senate Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee would go even further. The bill, filed by Sen. Leticia van de Putte, D-San Antonio, would require the Department of State Health Services to develop a set of guidelines for professionals treating veterans with psychological disorders.

Another part of the bill would coordinate mental-health services in areas without Veterans Affairs offices. The bill has features of one filed by state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso. Gary Larcenaire, chief executive officer of El Paso Mental Health Mental Retardation, has started a program to train U.S. veterans in mental-health counseling. The idea is to help returning soldiers overcome the stigma of being treated for mental illness.

“There was a military culture I could never really understand,” he said. “They will not speak with a trained psychological professional who has not seen combat.” A 2005 Veterans Affairs study found that 20 percent of Iraq war veterans reported some form of psychological disorder. Larcenaire said that, because of underreporting from veterans, the statistics on psychological disorders probably were on the low side.

Social Security for Wounded Warriors

Week of April 13, 2009

Wounded Warriors may be able for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration established an expedited claims process for servicemembers who were disabled on or after Oct. 1, 2001, regardless of where or how the disability occurred. Individuals in the military can apply for and receive benefits even while receiving military pay. Visit the Social Security Administration’s Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors website to find out everything you need to know about Social Security and military service, including a link to apply for disability benefits online.