OU Among 130 Colleges Helping Combat PTSD

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Ohio State University and five other Ohio colleges are joining a national effort to combat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries suffered in war.

The schools are among 130 nationwide that have pledged to focus on these postwar conditions to improve how they treat patients, research these problems and educate health-care workers.
The project, called Joining Forces, is being spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
According to the project's website, other focuses include employment, education and the mental wellness of veterans' families. Financial support also will help with homelessness and substance abuse.
Nine percent of service members have reported PTSD symptoms, and 27?percent have reported depression symptoms 90 to 180 days post-deployment, according to a September 2010 report by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.
Additionally, more than 19?percent of service members report potential traumatic brain injury suffered during deployment.
Ohio State said it will train medical students to have a basic understanding of these conditions, said Bryan Martin, associate dean of the OSU College of Medicine.
"The guys who have (these disorders) don't look hurt, and they feel like they're weak," said Martin, a combat veteran of the first Gulf War.
"If the medical folks don't understand and don't have a handle on what's going on … we run the risk of not getting them treated properly."
The college will not be receiving any grant money to participate, and it is too early to speculate how much they will spend on the initiative, he said.
"I think it's a great effort to get in on the ground level … and give (medical students) an appreciation and understanding for … PTSD and sharpen their diagnostic," said Dr. Marc Clemente, chief of mental health at the VA's Ambulatory Care Center on N. James Road.
One of the main focuses of the project is to develop a new generation of doctors capable of easing the transition home for veterans with brain injuries and trauma disorders, according to a news release.
"It makes quite an impression at a young age," Clemente said. "I think medical students and residents are obviously sponges, and they like to learn. It's a good thing."
The Ambulatory Care Center currently is training three OSU residents.
Medical schools also involved in the effort include those at Ohio University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Toledo and Wright State University.
"By directing some of our brightest minds, our most cutting-edge research, and our finest teaching institutions … they're ensuring that those who have served our country receive the first-rate care that they have earned," Obama said in a statement.
Pat Holmes is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau.