• October 22, 2014

Expansion on way for traumatic brain injury clinic

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Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 4:30 am

Fort Hood’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic is looking forward to an expansion.

The clinic, opened in 2009, currently consists of two buildings. Together, they house both treatments and services, divided into three categories: medical assistance, behavioral health services and rehabilitation, said Michael Hales, head nurse and assistant officer in charge of the clinic.

The expansion will include a third building, located alongside the current two on Support Avenue, and eventually, an Intrepid Spirit satellite clinic near Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

The clinic currently sees between 1,200 and 1,700 patients a year, on average. Over the past six weeks, it has seen about 470 patients.

“The numbers tend to fluctuate,” Hales said. “As of now, we’ve seen about 800 patients in 2013.”

About half of the patients’ injuries come from deployment-related incidents. A large amount of soldiers are able to return to duty following a traumatic brain injury, Hales said.

Traumatic brain injury can range from mild, moderate or severe, thus requiring a wide variety of treatments, all of them patient dependent.

“A patient could be seen in the clinic for as short as six weeks or as long as six months,” Hales said.

The addition of a new building to the current clinic comes as preparations begin for an Intrepid Spirit satellite clinic at Fort Hood.

The satellite clinic is based on the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, the premiere traumatic brain injury clinic in the country.

Intrepid Spirit centers are nonprofit based and funded through the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The first clinic opened at Fort Belvoir, Va., earlier this month. There are to be nine satellite centers at military posts in total, spanning the nation.

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence will study the data collected at these new centers to aid in research on traumatic brain injury, according to the fund’s website.

Once it is established, the Intrepid Spirit center at Fort Hood will work in conjunction with the current clinic.

“The services will be spread out in a combined effort,” Hales said, and his clinic will staff the new clinic as well.

The centers are designed to enhance rehabilitation, according to a Defense Department press release. At this time, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund could not confirm when a clinic will be built at Fort Hood.

For now, the Fort Hood clinic looks toward their new building, which “could be open as soon as late December,” said Keith Musick, traumatic brain injury program manager and chief nurse, Department of Medicine.

Once it is ready, rehabilitation services will have its own building, the nurses and physicians will work in another and the third building will be solely dedicated to behavioral health, housing psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers, along with neuropathy treatments, Hales said.

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