Combat Traumatic Brain Injuries Part of Veteran Suicide Trigger

22-Veterans-a-Day-memorial
Memorial to 22 veterans a day committing suicide seen in Tucson September 18 at HAV event in Armory Park and in many cities throughout the U. S.

by Carol L Henricks, MD

 It is Suicide Awareness Month and it is time to connect the dots and understand why the suicide rate is so high among our active duty military and military veterans. It is a consequence of the brain – blast injury (a form of TBI) they have sustained! Dr. Duncan, COO of Patriot Clinics, Inc. states that “Not since World War I have service members in a war theater been exposed to the level of blast injury that US service members have experienced in recent wars. “

A blast – brain injury has 2 mechanisms of injury to the brain: the concussive force of the blast and the decompression injury. You don’t need to hit your head or lose consciousness to be injured. Even one concussion brain injury is associated with an increased risk of depression and suicide – but military members are typically exposed to blast after blast after blast. Most of the military veterans I have seen in my office don’t even “count” the more distant blasts they experienced or view repeated blasts experienced in a single day as separate events. Every blast creates injury and the sooner after one injury you are exposed to more injury the worse the cumulative injury.

Blast – brain injury injures the whole brain. On a pathological level, the decompression injury causes ischemic lesions (like tiny strokes) all throughout the brain. When this occurs in an elderly person they are clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. The axonal shear component of injury is also a diffuse injury and disconnects the networks in the brain. The networks that perform basic processes such as the cycling between wakefulness and sleep are destroyed. Attention, concentration, short-term memory and executive function (planning) are lost. Emotional control is unstable and unpredictable. Life with a brain injury is a life that feels out of control. It is disorienting and confusing. This cognitive – emotional state triggers suicide. When a psychiatric diagnoses is made medication is prescribed resulting in clinical worsening.   Substance abuse also causes clinical worsening.

If you don’t diagnose and correctly treat brain injury, there will never be a successful treatment program. Medications do not heal the brain. This is a call – out to all military veterans: if you have been exposed to IED’s, RPG’s and other blasts and concussive forces, be evaluated with a SPECT brain scan, brain MRI – DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) or some other high level technology. Routine brain MRI scans (even with contrast) or head CT scans (even with contrast) are not able to “see” the injury. It is a limitation of technology, not proof that the TBI is not there.

There is treatment for this type of brain injury: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). The Patriot Clinics, Inc. of Oklahoma and the International Hyperbaric Medical Foundation have championed the cause to set up HBOT treatment facilities in every state. In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State House, the Oklahoma State Senate and the Governor all signed a bill into law that would create a funding mechanism so that money would be available for their hyperbaric facility to treat all the military veterans in their state. The state of Oklahoma recognizes the connection between brain injury, PTS and suicide and the effective treatment. The goal is to have every state set–up a program for its military veterans so they can be treated at no charge.

Military traumatic brain injury and its consequences are at a crisis level. There are HBOT facilities, non – profit organizations and concerned citizens around the country that are prepared to come together and help insure that those who need it are treated. This is a grassroots movement and we the people must rise to the occasion. We must be heroes to our Heroes.

 

Carol L Henricks, MD

Behavioral Neurology, Epilepsy,Sleep Disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury  & Hyperbaric Medicine.                     .

NorthStar Neurology PC…7596 N La Cholla Blvd…Tucson AZ 85741

Office Phone: 520-229-1238

Office FAX: 520-229-1242

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Nutrition for the Wounded Warrior– Optimizing Nutrients for Healing and Recovery

Article by Timothy M. Marshall PhD and Carol L. Henricks MD

Hundreds of thousands of military veterans are returning from war with serious symptoms of brain injury. The negative health impacts of war on brain health are multifactorial. We have sent healthy young people to war and they have returned with neurological symptoms that interfere with their ability to function in their life. Many are so despondent that 22 military veterans a day are taking their own lives. Nutrient optimization is a critical starting point for recovery.

The focus needs to be on giving these veterans the necessary nutrients that their “war-torn” bodies need to promote optimal healing and regeneration. It is well-known that under prolonged stress (e.g. a hypermetabolic state) the body uses up a number of important nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, iodine, chromium, iodine, lithium and the essential B-vitamins at an accelerated rate – as well as increasing urinary losses of these nutrients. For healing to take place – optimized levels of the above nutrients along with a nutrient and dietary program that focuses on and facilitates neural regeneration and detoxification of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and other chemical burdens, which ultimately impair healthy brain functioning and slow or prevent healing.

Another serious condition facing our returning veterans is something very little known by the American public. A growing number of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming sick and dying from what appears to be overexposure to dangerous toxins produced by burn pits, which are used to destroy waste.

Over 227 metric tons of trash are or were being burned daily. Waste products in burn pits include, but are not limited to: chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, discarded human body parts, metal / aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordinance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, rubber, wood, and discarded foot , lithium batteries, tires, hydraulic fluids, and vehicles. Jet fuel keeps pits burning twenty – four hours a day, seven days a week exposing thousands of our troops and contractors to toxic fumes on a daily basis.

Symptoms from burn pit exposure include constrictive bronciolitis ( a rare disease that affects the smallest passageways of the lungs ), brain lesions, Parkinson’s , headaches, memory loss, cholelithiasis, abdominal pain, skin lesions, skin cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and colon cancer to name a few. Toxins in burn pit smoke may affect skin, eyes, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, gastrointestinal tract and internal organs.

Toxic exposures of this magnitude require a detoxification protocol and a carefully designed regimen of nutrients to restore health. A Burn pit registry for exposed veterans has been established.

The constant stress of being in a war zone creates risk for adrenal fatigue. There are approaches to supporting recovery from adrenal fatigue.

The realities of war experiences help to create the pattern of responses we know as PTSD. Magnesium supplementation coupled with therapeutic levels of the B-vitamins and essential trace minerals – selenium, zinc, boron, chromium, iodine, and lithium – together have a calming and healing effect on the brain and promote deep neuronal healing (particular in combination with HBOT). Healing is optimized and greatly aided when the body receives the nutrients it needs, and is in a calm state of homeostatic balance.

Many are exposed to IED’s and other explosions and physical trauma which cause TBI and often multiple TBI. Healing the brain is critical to cognitive and emotional recovery. Even one concussion may lead to depression and increase the risk of suicide. If the brain does not heal, a degenerative process begins. The correlation between concussion, early onset dementia, ALS and Parkinson’s disease has been made. A special form of magnesium supplementation (e.g. mag threonate, MT) has recently been shown to promote improved cognitive functioning and neuronal cell healing. Stemgevity – a proprietary nutritional supplementation containing powerful healing herbs, and low-dose lithium in nutritionally relevant doses promotes the production and release of stem cells from bone marrow which further supports neuronal healing processes. Ambrotose, a patented formula of “smart sugars” enhances a number of essential metabolic activities, cell-to-cell communication in the brain, the endocrine system and the immune system.

Due to inherent flaws in our broken medical system –when these veterans return home, they are not effectively treated. The medications function to merely suppress systems, at best, and cause further nutrient depletions that undermine health and healing processes. In an attempt to cope with the pain and distress they feel, veterans often self-medicate with alcohol and drugs which results in further health and nutritional compromise.

Nutrition is typically not a focus of their thinking, but as healthcare practitioners, it needs to be a focus of our thinking. Medication may treat some symptoms, but medication creates dependency, not healing. Particularly with brain injury, if you do not heal the brain, continuing neurodegeneration takes place. Nutrient optimization is a critical starting point in this healing process.

 

Timothy M. Marshall, Ph.D.

Holistic Neurospecialist / Pharmacologist

E-book on Amazon/Kindle:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LDML3RI
cell: 520.370.6044
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Carol L Henricks, MD

Behavioral Neurology, Epilepsy,

Sleep Disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury

& Hyperbaric Medicine.                     .

NorthStar Neurology PC

7596 N La Cholla Blvd

Tucson AZ 85741

Office Phone: 520-229-1238

Office FAX: 520-229-1242