By Michael Kluk, LT, USPHS
Lt Kluk works with members of the three week program in a stress management class. The program curriculum is developed based on the unique needs of each service member.
The overarching goal of the Tri-Service Warrior Care Clinic is to facilitate return to duty. This mission is accomplished by providing coordinated and comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment and treatment for service members with mild to moderate traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, and chronic pain.
Of particular note is the Clinic’s three-week Intensive Outpatient Program which focuses on re-learning daily life skills. This monthly cohort-based treatment program, consisting of 6-12 active duty service members, is designed to address both the cognitive and psychological health concerns of those returning from deployment. While it is anticipated that many service members will have sustained their injuries on the battlefield, the context of injury is not exclusionary.
Prior to being accepted into the program, each service member will have completed a thorough multidisciplinary evaluation by a team of providers which may include experts in neurology, psychiatry, neuropsychology, speech pathology, and occupational therapy. Next, an individualized curriculum will be developed based on the unique needs of each service member.
For those service members presenting with impairments in the areas of memory, attention, and problem solving, the program offers both traditional and computer-based cognitive rehabilitation therapy on a daily basis throughout the three-week program by a licensed speech pathologist. This level of supervision and intensity is not available in a traditional outpatient service.
The program also provides a variety of group therapies, focusing on issues such as stress management, communication and intimacy, anger management, nutrition, substance abuse, and pain management, in a safe, supportive, military-focused atmosphere.
Each participant will also have daily access to multiple clinical specialties including case management, neurology, psychiatry, psychology, neuropsychology, speech pathology, and occupational therapy.
Whereas community-based programs are not designed with the needs of the military in mind, we have designed our program to address the unique needs of active duty service members of all branches.
Care does not end after the three-week program is completed. Three monthly follow-up visits will be held with each service member to measure progress and to address ongoing needs. Spouses and caregivers are encouraged to be involved in this process.
Photos courtesy of Kathy MacKnight, Public Affairs Officer