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October 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

RISK FACTORS THAT PREDICT OPIOID PRESCRIPTION DURATION

A recent study by The University of Texas Health Science Centre assessed the factors that were associated with opioid prescriptions in 242,578 active duty service members. Chronic pain is more prevalent among active duty service members (44%) compared to civilians (26%), therefore, we would expect there to be a greater prescription rate for opioids in military members, contributing to a growing opioid epidemic that concerns not only veterans but also the general public. Prescription duration was divided into 4 categories: acute (less than 3 months), episodic (less than 120 days), long-term low-dose (LTLD) (more than 120 days and dosage less than 20mg) and long-term high-dose (LTHD) (more than 120 days and dosage more than 20mg). Results showed that those individuals who were co-prescribed benzodiazepines and antidepressants were more likely to be associated with the LTLD and LTHD prescription durations.

More information can be found here.

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October 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

REVIEW OF TELE-THERAPY USED TO TREAT PTSD IN VETERANS (STUDY BY COMBAT STRESS)

Tele-therapy is the remote treatment of patients by means of telecommunication technology. Veterans may find that they face barriers when attempting to access treatment, thus tele-therapy provides one possible way to get around certain barriers, such as location and travel difficulties. This review aimed to establish the lessons learned so far from using tele-therapy for PTSD. A total of 41 articles were reviewed. Results revealed that in the majority of cases tele-therapy was an effective and appropriate method to help reduce PTSD symptoms, at a level that was comparable to in-person interventions. Challenges identified included a sense of discomfort for certain veterans using tele-therapy, technological difficulties and a lack of non-verbal communication between therapist and patient. However, overall tele-therapy proved to be a successful alternative for in-person PTSD treatment in veterans.

The article was published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare and can be accessed here.

Additional research from Combat Stress can be found here.

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October 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

A PROFILE OF MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT-SEEKING VETERANS (STUDY BY COMBAT STRESS)

Previous evidence suggests veterans with mental health issues face worse treatment outcomes than their civilian counterparts. Researchers at Combat Stress wanted to address this concern by distributing questionnaires to 403 randomly selected UK veterans who had engaged with mental health support in order to establish whether there were any specific factors relating to poorer outcomes. The results revealed that the most common mental health issue reported was PTSD, followed by anger, common mental health difficulties and alcohol misuse. Complex comorbidities were also identified leading researchers to the conclusion that from this sample of treatment seeking veterans, the level of complex conditions may explain why there are poorer treatment outcomes. It is therefore important to address the need for multi-disciplinary services that are able to treat concurrent conditions to help improve treatment outlook for veterans.

The article was published in The Journal of Mental Health which can be accessed online here.

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October 2017

TUCK SLEEP: ADVANCING BETTER SLEEP

Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.

PTSD is known to incite insomnia, delayed phase sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, and sleepwalking. The community at Tuck Sleep has put together an exhaustive guide on the effects of trauma on sleep, including many useful methods to help those who suffer from any of the above ailments.

You can read Tuck Sleep's Trauma Sleep Guide here.

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October 2017 

CHRONIC NON-FREEZING COLD INJURY RESULTS IN NEUROPATHIC PAIN DUE TO A SENSORY NEUROPATHY

This article, published in Brain, a journal of Neurology, was written by Tom A. Vale, Mkael Symonds, Michael Polydefkis, Kelly Byrnes, Andrew S.C. Rice, Andreas C. Themistocleous and David L.H. Bennet, and was accepted for publication in July 2017.

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October 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

KINGS COLLEGE LONDON TO EXPLORE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN MILITARY SPOUSES AND PARTNERS WITH FIMT AWARD

The Forces in Mind Trust has awarded Kings College London over £150,000 (€168,000) to study domestic abuse and violence in military spouses and partners. The aim is to assess the impact of Service in the Armed Forces on relationships from the perspective of civilian partners' who have suffered domestic abuse from their military partner . The study is expected to last 18 months and will hopefully determine the prevalence of domestic abuse and violence among military relationships, as well as the perceptions of support available and experiences told by spouses and partners. This will enable better resources to be set up to meet the needs of partners and families of military personnel and to help understand the challenges faced when these individuals are seeking help.

Read more about this here.

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October 2017

MEDICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE OF THE BRITISH MEMBERS COUNCIL OF THE WVF HOLDS MEETING IN LONDON

The Medical Advisory Board of the British Members Council of the WVF held a meeting on Monday 2 October to discuss current affairs and progress in the veterans' welfare field. They were also briefed from two specialists in veteran health and welfare, namely Mr. Matt Fossey, director of Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin University (UK), and Col. (Retd) Dr. Beverly Bergman, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow (UK). Mr. Fossey gave a presentation outlining the work of the Veterans and Families Institute and also introducing the newly founded Veterans and Families Research Hub at Anglia Ruskin University. Col. (Retd) Dr. Beverly Bergman then presented an interesting study that she led on smoking related cancer in military veterans.

You can read more about each of these topics at the following links:

Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University (UK)

Veterans and Families Research Hub, Anglia Ruskin University (UK)

Smoking-related cancer in military veterans: retrospective cohort study of 57,000 veterans and 173,000 matched non-veterans (Beverly P. Bergman, Daniel F. Mackay, David Morrison and Jill P. Pell)

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH AN INCREASED SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DEVELOP PARKINSON'S DISEASE

Gardner et al. (2017) published in a paper in Neurology with results suggesting that mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in military veterans is associated with a greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD). The authors identified those veterans within the Veterans Care Association (VCA) who had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis and from there identified factors that differed from those patients without TBI. Those with TBI, in comparison to those without, were younger, had a higher prevalence of comorbidities such as cerebrovascular disease and depression and were also significantly more likely to develop PD during follow-up. This was also the case for those with mTBI, specifically, indicating a need for methods to prevent post-TBI PD.

The paper can be accessed here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

BLAST EXPOSURE AND BIOMARKERS FOR RETINAL INJURY

Modern military conflicts have seen an increase in the number of personnel exposed to blast waves. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology reports that blast exposure can result in long-term ocular damage even when brain changes are not detected. The authors write that indicators of such retinal injuries will enable early detection of individuals that are at risk of visual impairment. Laboratory mice were exposed to a simulated blast wave and their retinal tissues were later analysed. Several pathological changes were identified, although no detectable cognitive changes were observed. The mice retinas saw increases in inflammation and photoreceptor death, along with various other cellular changes. Interestingly, tau, a protein associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, was seen to accumulate in retinal neurons, opening up a new field of investigation for a more in-depth understanding of long-lasting retinal changes following blast exposure.

The paper can be accessed here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

GENDER AND DEPLOYMENT STRESS

Experiencing stress during deployment may have detrimental consequences for veterans’ work and family life. Research by Smith et al. (2017), published in Clinical Psychological Science, suggests there may be differences between genders when it comes to deployment stress and self-reported well-being. The study took place at the VA Boston Healthcare System, where 522 male and female veterans were recruited. Following surveying, results showed that there were several indirect pathways linking deployment stressors, such as warfare exposure, sexual harassment and family stressors to work and family outcomes for the veterans. Although there were many similar associations found for both females and males, there were also some gender-specific pathways. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was a significant contributor of poorer outcomes for both male and female veterans, whereas depression played a more detrimental role for females over males. Alcohol misuse was significant in predicting impairment for both males and females, albeit weaker for males. Understanding more about gender specific factors contributing to post-deployment well-being may help better cater to veterans’ needs in the years following their military services.

The publication can be accessed here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

LIFE BEYOND SIGHT LOSS

On 24th May, Blind Veterans held a Research and Innovation Seminar at the Victory Services Club to discuss topics from sight loss and traumatic brain injury to advances in military ocular care. The event boasted excellent speakers from different areas of ocular research, including representatives from the British Medical Defence Services, the University of York, and researchers from the United States who collaborate with Blind Veterans UK.

To read the HVRT's review on this seminar, please click here.

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June 2017

This article was written by the Health of Veterans Research Team (https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/) and contains up to date information concerning veteran's health, coming from the medical and academic community.

LITHIUM MAY BE BENEFICIAL FOR TREATING TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by a trauma to the head.

TBI in military settings is believed to most often follow from a blunt force trauma to the head, in particular, blast injury secondary to improvised explosion devices. Researchers are able to study TBI in a laboratory using rodent models. These models have shown that TBI causes impairment to neurotransmission, a biological process whereby neurons communicate via a release of chemicals. The reduction in neuronal communication is hypothesised to contribute to the behavioural dysfunction seen in TBI. Carlson and colleagues at University of Pittsburgh, United States, recently published a report in Experimental Neurology with findings that demonstrate a potential therapeutic use for Lithium Chloride in the treatment of TBI. Rats that were administered with Lithium Chloride, daily, for two weeks showed significant improvements in cognitive functioning. The researchers discovered that Lithium Chloride facilitated crucial components in the neurotransmission process, thus alleviating the disruption of chemical firing caused by TBI. Since neurotransmission is required for learning and memory, the increase in neuronal firing led to the improved cognitive abilities seen in the rats treated with Lithium Chloride.

The published report can be accessed here.

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HVRC

HEALTH OF VETERANS RESEARCH TEAM (HVRT)

The British Members Council of the WVF have teamed up with the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) and King Edward VII's Hospital to form the Health of Veterans Research Team (HVRT). This unit’s main duties will be:

-       To build impartial evidence and compile research reports regarding veteran health and welfare

-       To draw information from academic journal articles and Ministry of Defence (UK) reports

-       To identify gaps in existing literature

-       To detect potential threats to veteran health

-       To respond to queries

You can find more information on their website: https://hvrt-mac-veteranshealth.org/