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A hug is duct tape for the soul.

From U.S. Department of Defense, American Forces Press Service:
BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 27, 2010 – Valerie Wallace was at her wits’ end when she first heard about a novel traumatic brain injury treatment program under way here at the National Naval Medical Center.

Her 22-year-old son, Army Sgt. John Barnes, was wounded in southwestern Iraq in 2006 during a mortar attack while he was deployed with the 101st Infantry Division.

He had slipped into a coma for 12 days, remembering nothing of the attack when he regained consciousness with a severe traumatic brain injury. He recognized his family members’ faces, but had lost much of his verbal and motor skills as well as his short-term memory.

After two months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, followed by treatment at the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, in Tampa, Fla., Barnes seemed on the road to recovery, his mother recalled.

But a fluid buildup within his brain stopped that progress cold, requiring an emergency craniectomy to relieve swelling. From there, as Barnes began his rehabilitation almost from square one, he fluctuated between extremes. At one point, his recovery was so successful that he’d started living independently and enrolled in college, but at other times, his condition was so dire that his mother feared he was spiraling out of control.

“Then the [post-traumatic stress disorder] set in and he began self medicating with whatever he could get his hands on,” his mother recalled. “It was just a disaster.”

It was only by chance that Wallace learned through a friend about the National Naval Medical Center’s psychological health and traumatic brain injury team. The little-known team was stood up here about two years ago to address the complexities of brain and mental-health injuries.

Dr. David Williamson, the team leader, admitted Barnes for about a month of close observation in the six-bed TBI unit known as “7 East.”

We have a whole portfolio of brain injury specialists, treating clinicians who look at all the basic aspects of brain function, like movement, balance and vision, up through the higher brain functions like memory and personality and emotional regulation,” Williamson said. “And the [patient’s] time here allows us to put together a very sophisticated assessment of all these different areas of brain function, and to identify what the needs will be downstream.”
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