The Minnesota Veterans Medical Research & Education Foundation (MN Vets) is dedicated to advancing the health and well being of our country's veterans through cutting-edge medical research and education leading to prevention, diagnosis, and management of disease and disability.

Can Computer-based Skills Training Help People With Schizophrenia Function Better?

Nienow RWe’ve all seen depictions of schizophrenia in movies and television programs that often are not only far from reality, they are far from sympathetic. Approximately one percent of the world’s population struggle with this complex mental disorder.

For those afflicted with schizophrenia, it can be difficult to distinguish between real and unreal events, think logically, focus on issues and solve problems, display normal emotional responses, and behave normally in social situations.

Sometimes the disorder can be so debilitating (despite any pharmaceutical treatment) that going to school or work, or functioning as a spouse or parent, is almost impossible.

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Gulf War Illness - Finding Answers Now That May Help Find Treatments Later

ronald bachWith so much focus now deservedly placed on medical and other issues facing Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, many of us may have forgotten that there are hundreds of thousands of veterans who served in another Middle Eastern war – the Gulf War of 1990 and 1991.

And while that war was, in comparison to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, short and fairly free of high mortality and critical injury rates, about 25 to 30 percent of the 697,000 U.S. soldiers (or some 250,000 veterans) who served in that war still suffer from an unexplained chronic multi-symptom disorder now known as Gulf War Illness (GWI). GWI is the signature health-related outcome of that war.

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These Feet Are Made For Walking

andrew hansen walking feetIf you’ve ever seen ads for the “rocker” shoes that have become so popular in many circles due to their purported body toning properties, you might understand a bit about the sort of work done by Andrew Hansen, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer and research health scientist at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

In Hansen’s lab, there are shelves of prosthetic feet of various shapes, sizes and materials. Some are of a very basic design, made of hard plastic and meant to be quite inexpensive. Others are constructed of more flexible material and are cut at precise intervals to help enable more movement, including the “rocking” motion that natural ankles and feet actually do make when we walk and the “flat” state that occurs when we are standing still. Still others are operated by remote control fobs that mechanically change the prosthetic from the rocking, or walking state, to the flat, standing still state.

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VA Research Profile: Translating PTSD and TBI Research to Treatment: Scott Sponheim, Ph.D.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a concept that has been known to exist among combat soldiers and veterans since at least World War I, when it was called shell shock. Later it was labeled combat fatigue. It has been difficult to say how many soldiers and veterans have had PTSD, though the 1983 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study estimated that 30 percent of the men and 27 percent of the women who served in the Vietnam War had been afflicted with PTSD.

During the course of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the focus of the military and of the American public has again turned to PTSD. But with the advent of highly destructive improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the matter of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, also has become a concern for those in combat and the health professionals who treat these individuals while they remain in service and when they leave active duty.

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Can Writing Help Post-Deployment Vets Make the Best Return to Civilian Life?

Sayer RIt's known that veterans returning from deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan face daunting challenges when trying to re-integrate into civilian life. Difficult wartime experiences often must be processed and living again with family members in a non-military society can produce a sometimes confounding mixture of emotions. And many veterans who need help in dealing with post-deployment problems wait years or even decades before seeking such help, if they seek it at all.

Military and civilian mental health professionals and ordinary people alike have long realized the benefits that can come from writing about difficult issues. It's the reason many people keep diaries and maintain journals. However, the usefulness of writing in helping combat veterans cope with the transition to civilian life has not been established by the scientific community.

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