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The Road to Recovery: Video Teleconferencing Solutions Keep PTSD Patients on Track

TechSource Editor

August 13, 2012  |  Collaboration  •  Telehealth

We welcome and honor deployed soldiers that arrive home safely on U.S. soil and celebrate the courage it takes to protect our nation’s freedom. Yet, in many cases, there is a long road ahead of these soldiers even after they’ve arrived.

Statistics show that more than 20 percent of the soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past six years suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People suffering with PTSD exhibit clear physical and psychological symptoms, such as depression, substance abuse, problems with memory and cognition, and other physical and mental health problems. The Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are working to combat PTSD and by implementing technology, they will be better prepared to take on this challenge.

The VA employs PTSD specialists at each of its medical centers, and provides nearly 200 specialized PTSD treatment programs. According to the VA, the most common treatments consist of psychotherapy or “counseling,” medication, or a combination of both. The biggest challenge with patients is ensuring that they receive these treatments for requisite length of time. However, in certain cases, the travel to VA medical centers becomes a burden and treatment stops too early.

New technologies, such as video telepresence, are transforming the delivery of healthcare services and helping to make PTSD treatments more convenient for veterans. While no technology can substitute perfectly for an in-person meeting, supplementing such appointments with virtual face-to-face sessions can help maintain familiarity and reinforce the relationship and bond for the duration of treatment. Eliminating excessive travel to VA medical centers helps reduce one barrier to veterans completing their treatments.

With the growing statistics and the number of soldiers returning home with PTSD symptoms, it is going to be critical for the DoD and VA to continually investigate alternative methods to provide treatment to remote patients. This is just another example of how video telepresence can support current initiatives and increase the probability of successful outcomes of PTSD treatments among veterans.

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