July 16, 2014
CAPT Henry McMillan
The Department of Defense (DoD) describes traumatic brain injury as “one of the invisible wounds of war, and one of the signature injuries of troops wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.”1 In addition to brain damage caused by trauma, many soldiers with this condition experience co-occurring injures and behavioral health disorders. To enhance care for service members affected by traumatic brain injury, the DoD and the Fisher Foundation’s Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund created the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) to forge an integrated approach to research, education, evaluation, and treatment.
Due to the growing need for care, the DoD is opening nine NICoE satellite sites at major military bases across the nation including Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. CAPT Henry McMillan, a therapist officer serving as the Chief of the Department of Brain Injury Medicine at Womack Army Medical Center, is overseeing operations that will bring Fort Bragg’s NICoE satellite to fruition in Fall 2015. “This is going to be a one-stop-shop for individuals suffering from traumatic brain injury to come and receive comprehensive, patient-centered care,” says CAPT McMillan.
The satellite will co-locate services for traumatic brain injury, pain management, and behavioral health in a state-of-the-art facility. In addition to traditional rehabilitative care services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology, patients will also have access to alternative wellness services, such as art therapy, yoga, and acupuncture. “By building upon and joining these services, we’re able to provide an integrated, holistic approach to recovery for soldiers and their families,” says CAPT McMillan.
CAPT McMillan has begun applying NICoE’s integrated care model to existing services to ensure a seamless transition to the new facility. Prior to employing this model, patients received separate evaluations and care for traumatic brain injury, pain management, and behavioral health. Following complete program integration, patients will receive one evaluation for all three services and work with a multi-disciplinary team of providers during a 4-6 week intensive outpatient treatment program tailored to their individual needs.
CDR Scott Klimp
“By using this synergistic model where everyone is communicating and working together, we’re able to cover symptoms from all angles and treat the whole soldier,” notes CDR Scott Klimp, a physician assistant serving as the Program Management Officer for Traumatic Brain Injury at Womack Army Medical Center. CDR Klimp is part of the team working to integrate treatment programs and services for traumatic brain injury, pain management, and behavioral health.
CDR Klimp expects the satellite to make the biggest impact on patients with the highest acuity and those with the greatest need for multiple services. “This enhanced care allows us to have a better understanding of all of the issues affecting a patient and how those issues affect each other,” says CDR Klimp. “Ultimately, this will make a difference in the patient’s long-term functional outcome.”
CAPT McMillan and CDR Klimp are already seeing the benefits of the comprehensive approach to traumatic brain injury care: almost 95% of their patients return to active duty. CAPT McMillan anticipates the satellite at Fort Bragg will see 1,500 new patients per year. “I’m glad I have the opportunity to make this program fruitful for everyone: DoD, Commissioned Corps, and most importantly for the soldiers themselves,” says CAPT McMillan. For more information about how the Commissioned Corps supports the DoD, check out the DoD-USPHS Partnership for Psychological Health.