The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has announced the launch of a $100 million campaign to build centers at nine of the largest military bases in the country where service members living with head injuries from exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to get the treatment they need.
The announcement was made during groundbreaking events for the first two National Intrepid Centers of Excellence (NICoE) — at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Each of the nine centers is expected to cost $11 million, span 25,000 square feet, and be completed within three years. According to the New York Times, the fund has already raised $25 million toward its goal.
Each center will include intake and clinic areas for psychiatric testing, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, neuro-psych testing rooms, and examination facilities; physical therapy in an open gym layout; a sleep lab; a central park that provides a multipurpose environment for physical therapy and family activities; and a family room. The centers and others that follow are being located at military bases and medical centers around the country to provide medical care for service members without having to separate them from their units or families for extended periods of treatment.
Traumatic brain injury occurs when a sudden trauma or head injury disrupts the function of the brain. Common causes of TBI include damage caused by explosive devices, falls, and vehicle or motorcycle accidents. Most of the reported traumatic brain injuries suffered by Iraq and Afghanistan service members and veterans have been traced back to IEDs. Symptoms of TBI can appear immediately or after weeks or even months following the initial trauma.
"Recovery from brain injury varies by individual and degree of damage. Although little can be done to reverse the initial damage, immediate medical treatment is essential for stabilizing, preventing further damage, and beginning physical and mental rehabilitation," said Dr. James Kelly, director of NICoE in Bethesda, Maryland. "Often, severely TBI patients will require surgery to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels and bruised brain tissue, as well as any other complications due to brain trauma. For many TBI sufferers, there is medication and alternative medicines which can mitigate symptoms such as headaches, chronic pain, behavioral problems, depression, seizures and chronic pain, once the extent of the injury is diagnosed."