• Computerized Tests Aren’t Always Best in TBI Assessments
    Behavioral healthcare benefits affect soldiers' quality of life
    U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal, CRDAMC Public Affairs

    Computerized tests to measure neurocognitive damage are not always reliable and should not replace traditional assessments, experts at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) confirmed after comparing various types of assessments in a new study.

    Neurocognitive testing is often standard after a suspected traumatic brain injury (TBI). Current neurocognitive tests, designed to measure various cognitive processes such as attention, memory and executive function, are typically of the paper-and-pencil variety and are administered by a trained psychologist. Traditional testing may also include some computer-based tests.

    The “Head to Head” study examined the reliability and validity of four computerized neurocognitive assessments (NCATs) — ANAM4, CNS Vital Signs, CogState and ImPACT — with service members at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. ANAM is the most widely used, but Army Special Forces prefers to use ImPACT.

    In some ways, comparing NCATs to traditional tests and NCATs to one another is like trying to compare apples to oranges because there are many ways to measure cognitive ability, DVBIC Senior Clinical Research Director Wesley Cole and DVBIC Senior Clinical Research Associate Jacques Arrieux said in a webinar that presented the “Head to Head” study findings. As a result, they were unable to determine whether one NCAT was better than the others.

  • Top 10 DCoE Blogs of 2015
    2015 #TopTen #DCoEBlogs

    Themes often define a year. In 2015, that was definitely the case: our audience clicked and commented most often when we shared tips, resources and practices related to mindfulness. Other topics our readers found of particular interest were moral injury, resources for military kids and caring for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Listed below in order of popularity are the top 10 blog posts of 2015 on the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) website.

  • What You Need to Know about Mindfulness Meditation
    mindfulness blog series

    Mindfulness meditation swiftly gained popularity as a self-care strategy for improving psychological health symptoms and overall resilience. Clinical evidence shows that this strategy works. DCoE wrote a series of mindfulness blogs to help you understand what mindfulness meditation is, how it can help, what studies and data support it, and how individuals can integrate it into their daily lives. Below is a quick rundown on the entire series, including what you need to know about mindfulness meditation and how to get started.

    What is mindfulness meditation?
    Mindfulness meditation comes from a Buddhist tradition. It increases awareness of the present by focusing on your breathing, body and thoughts. With continual practice, this technique trains the brain to stay in the present moment and can help you accept things for what they are, without judgment.

  • Clinician’s Corner: Expert Highlights Cognitive Rehabilitation after Traumatic Brain Injury

    Providers should rely on the evidence base for cognitive rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) rather than solely on “clinical intuition,” an expert told attendees at the 2015 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Summit.

    “Please use the available materials” to guide cognitive rehabilitation for mild TBI, commonly known as concussion, Linda Picon, the Department of Veterans Affairs liaison for TBI at DCoE, urged providers. There is still much to learn about the most effective treatments for this patient population, but using the wealth of provider tools available means that care can be standardized to help advance the science and optimize patient outcomes, she said.

    Although existing practice standards are primarily based on studies of patients with moderate to severe TBI rather than concussion, Picon said the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments have a number of concussion resources to guide the assessment and treatment of problems with attention, memory, executive function, social competence and other common cognitive complaints. These include:

  • 2015 Greatest Hits for Providers: Top Articles, Videos
    DCoE Presents: Top 2015 Provider Focused Articles, Blog Posts and Webinar Videos

    Busy lives and information overload can make it challenging to read all of the interesting articles that you see in a given day. Or, you may not have the time to join a webinar on a topic that interests you. No worries, we’ve got you covered!

    We’ve compiled a cheat sheet of the most popular articles and webinar videos specifically for providers in 2015. Enjoy them while waiting for a flight or during your vacation downtime.

  • Your Electronics May be Ruining Your Sleep
    U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Denoris Mickle

    Do you spend countless hours at night playing video games, watching TV and trolling on social media? Are you having trouble falling asleep? Using electronic devices more often for longer periods of time has a negative impact on sleep, according to a recent study presented at a webinar hosted by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Dec. 3.

    Sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions are controlled by a person’s circadian rhythm over a 24-hour period of time. Light exposure can disrupt sleep and affect the circadian rhythm, which is why research is looking at how the increased use of electronics may be impacting our sleep. TV, computers, tablets and cell phones all produce what is referred to as blue light waves in dark rooms during night hours.