Report to Congress Urges Accelerated Efforts to Create Breakthroughs on Traumatic Brain Injury

Identifies Cutting Edge Programs to Treat Wounded Warriors

WASHINGTON--()--At a Capitol Hill briefing today, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center of Paterson, NJ, in conjunction with Congressman Bill Pascrell, Co-Chair, Congressional Brain Injury Task Force (CBITF), announced the official recommendations of the International Conference on Behavioral Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Report.

Experts in the field of TBI, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological health called for the United States Congress and the Department of Defense to accelerate programs and treatments to provide our troops and their families with the best health care and support services available.

Outlined by the first International Conference on Behavioral Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, the report calls for: providing wounded warriors with care equal to that offered by the private sector; developing health-centric tools for warriors; establishing scientifically-valid standards of care to facilitate efficient recovery; disseminating TBI and PTSD research for the common good and developing partnerships in research and treatment to benefit warriors, their families and society in general. The report also proposes a nationwide network of partnered agencies, organizations, and programs that will coordinate and disseminate resources, information, referral contacts, and support, with aggressive outreach to rural areas and underserved populations who find it difficult to get the care they need after returning home.

“This report outlines a series of critical recommendations that Congress and the Defense Department must follow in order to mitigate the effects of traumatic brain injury and improve care for the thousands upon thousands of soldiers who have been afflicted. Compiled by the most elite doctors, scientists and researchers from all around the world, this report is well-balanced and comprehensive. But most important, it is urgent. I look forward to working with the Task Force, Congress and military leadership to enact these recommendations,” stated Congressman Pascrell, Co-Chair of CBITF and host of the Congressional Briefing.

In addition to Congressman Bill Pascrell, briefing speakers included Dr. George Zitnay, Co- Founder, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center; Dr. Carl Valenziano, Chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center; William McDonald, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Healthcare System and wounded warrior, US Army 1st Lt. Brian Brennan. Lt. Brennan’s parents and sister also spoke, addressing the critical role of family members in the recovery of wounded warriors recovering from TBI and other injuries.

The report requests immediate Congressional and Department of Defense consideration and action. All of the recommendations presented are achievable and collectively would represent a dramatic breakthrough in addressing TBI and warrior psychological health.

Dr. George Zitnay stated in conclusion about the recommendations, “Research is important but it must be translated into practice. And we must also address respite for the caregiver families when they return home with their wounded warriors. The demands upon them are great, and they can better do their important work with opportunities provided for them to refresh themselves and strengthen their abilities.”

Blast related injuries and extended deployment are contributing to an unprecedented number of warriors suffering from TBI, the ‘signature wound’ of the war in Iraq, and psychological health issues. Of the 1.64 million U.S. troops deployed, approximately 320,000 have experienced a TBI and 300,000 suffer from PTSD or other psychological health issues. An estimated 1 in 3 injured soldiers seek treatment for psychological difficulties and an estimated 15% return with some type of TBI. Lack of treatment and services for these veterans can result in chronic unemployment, substance abuse, increased health problems, and homelessness.

“For too many of our wounded warriors, the wounds of the mind are more severe than any other,” said Charlene Feldbush, volunteer of the Wounded Warrior Project. “We urge Congress to act on these recommendations for our warriors, their families and our nation.”

Mother of Lt. Brennan, Joanne Brennan, stated, "We thank Congressman Pascrell for his leadership and these recommendations that are needed RIGHT NOW by thousands of our wounded warriors and their families... Let's do something to wake up soldiers who lie unconscious, to help them recover, and to help their families who struggle every day."

In October 2008, at the request of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center hosted the International Conference on Behavioral Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, bringing together 100 world-renowned neuroscientists, physicians, psychologists, and health care professionals from around the globe to share cutting edge research and knowledge about PTSD and TBI.

For more information please visit, www.stjosephshealth.org/TBI.

To schedule an interview with one of the briefing speakers or to request photos from the briefing, contact Ashleigh Wayland at 202-414-0784 or awayland@susandavis.com

Contacts

for St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center
Ashleigh Wayland
202-414-0784

Contacts

for St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center
Ashleigh Wayland
202-414-0784