IOM report indicates more study of TBI necessary to determine effective treatment
A report released Oct. 11 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) indicates more study with a larger focus group may be necessary to determine an effective course of treatment for people suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The study was commissioned by the Department of Defense (DoD), as a result of the staggering number of TBIs suffered by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. TBI has become the “signature injury” for these soldiers.
Traumatic brain injury affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide, and can range in severity from fairly mild to severe. TBI in even its mildest form may cause cognitive, physical and/or psycosocial problems. In the past 10 years, the number of TBI injuries in active U.S. military personnel has increased from 11,000 to 31,000 reported cases.
The IOM study was summarized by The Lancet, which noted that the wide disparity of characteristics among TBI patients, with symptoms possibly including pain, fatigue, and depression, combined with a relatively small sample study, makes it impossible to effectively determine the best course of treatment for TBI. However, Lancet authors point out, with the growing number of TBI patients – a result of war injuries as well as simply increased awareness of TBI – “the need to effectively treat the longlasting consequences of (TBI) is enormous.”
The IOM study focused specifically on the use of Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT) as a treatment for TBI. This therapy seeks to help patients restore and reestablish cognitive function, as well as teaching him or her skills to adapt to their TBI-related impairments. While the study cannot conclusively document the benefits of CRT at this time, study authors support the “ongoing use of CRT for people suffering from a TBI while improvements are made in the standardization, design and conduct of studies.”
The committee also recommends the establishment of various protocols to improve the study of TBI, and the use of CRT as a treatment. Researchers recommend the D0D work to collect clinical data from TBI patients in the “most rigorous way possible” and “should develop a comprehensive registry of CRT interventions — a database to collect information about these variables.”
Read the full IOM TBI Report Brief.
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