News FocusThe Invisible Wounds of War

Healing the Brain, Healing the Mind

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 514-517
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.514

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The National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at the National Naval Medical Center specializes in diagnosing and treating the toughest cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health problems to arise from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The confluence of TBI and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be the hardest problem confronting veterans of the current conflicts and those who care for them. Physical and psychological trauma have traditionally been considered different entities, the former treated by neurologists and the latter by psychiatrists. Yet the two conditions have many overlapping symptoms, and people with a history of both seem to have an especially difficult time recovering. There is even some evidence to suggest the two traumas may involve overlapping mechanisms in the brain. NICoE takes an integrated approach to treating veterans and plans to undertake research to help unravel the knot of TBI and PTSD.