Remote PTSD Treatment for Veterans Now A Possibility
March 26, 2010 – Soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) thousands of miles from a VA treatment center are often left to cope with their symptoms on their own. Army Surgeon General Eric Shoomaker plans on ending this lack of important treatments by utilizing video teleconferencing (VTC) as a substitute for in-person therapy sessions. His plan is to begin offering mental health treatment over the internet via a transportable telehealth system.
As many as 35% of Iraqi and Afghanistan soldiers and veterans currently suffer from PTSD. The telehealth system is an 8 x 20 foot transport container. Inside the container 3 treatment rooms have been constructed to include all other standard amenities of a normal clinic. The main difference between the two is that the doctor will not be physically present in the clinic itself and will interact with the patient remotely via the video teleconferencing system instead.
The system allows treatment of both PTSD and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Clinicians are able to view patients and interact with them on a personal level. One very good way of diagnosing brain damage due to an explosion is to evaluate a soldier’s gait. This is now possible to achieve remotely with the VTC system.
The first telehealth unit being tested is located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. Later this year, patients in the South Pacific will be the first ones to receive treatments. Linking clinicians through the VA hospital in Honolulu will allow the clinicians to treat Army Reserve soldiers in Iraq. Assuming a successful test, treatment will become available worldwide.