Say you are a U.S. serviceman or servicewoman, returning from the horrors in the Mideast. Maybe not even so far away. Perhaps you were a federal or local law enforcement official called to the Sandy Hook massacre or the Boston Marathon bombing. Or for that matter, any of the myriad consequences of the nightmarish human behaviors, increasingly the province of otherwise normal-seeming people.
You find it hard to sleep, you keep having nightmares; flashbacks of obscene horrors intrude on your waking consciousness. You begin weeping in mid-day for no apparent reason. Quick to anger, you snap at loved ones, and someday, perhaps, you have to do something to stop the constant mental pain and anguish.
In too many cases, that something is either suicide or some form of violence against family or other innocents. PTSD and the sequelae of traumatic brain injury are well-understood concommitants of exposure to the worst the 21st Century has to offer. Unfortunately, there continue to be too few places to turn - and too long to wait - when the problem is finally acknowledged by the victim, or their family, or a medical professional.
For 6 months now IMCRA has been establishing and solidifying working relationships with experts in the area of Mental Health issues plaguing those who have been there when needed. Early on, we began a partnership with Congressman Jim Himes, which has now extended to a joint collaboration with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Last week we began talks with Richard Kendall of the Federal Homeland Security Foundation. All these efforts are focused on establishing a confidential network of qualified experts who can recognize the ravages of PTSD and utilize the IMCRA program bring aid both to families and the first point-of-contact medical providers Those professionals are an especially important target because so often, that is where the path to health stops - because of unfamiliarity with the problem leading to referrals to an overburdened and massively delayed VA healthcare system.
How to we get this network off the ground? Your help and partnership as much as is possible. IMCRA now needs a part-time staffer who can concentrate specifically on this complex issue and working all of the network connections that will make it successful. Please help us help those who gave so much and now are in crisis.
GETTING HELP TO THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST
On November 24th IMCRA representatives met with Congressman Jim Himes of CT to coordinate congressional and senate support for extending expert medical counseling to veterans and their families via the IMCRA handheld app for PTSD and TBI. Further action on this is anticipated toward the middle of this month.
It is clear that the psychological damage which follows exposure to life-threatening events also has a biological basis in the brain and central nervous system which can worsen if left untreated. Clinical PTSD currently affects about 7.7 million American adults. Untreated and often unrecognized, the impact on an individual’s personal and professional life is profound. Persons with PTSD become emotionally numb, lose interest in things they used to enjoy, may be easy to startle or easily become irritable, tend to be aggressive, and may have trouble falling and staying asleep.
Although many persons with PTSD after a crisis event will see their symptoms lessen over time, (especially with basic support like seeing a doctor, reconnecting with loved ones or learning about programs to help victims) the majority do not recover. At present, such people are left to their own devices to seek professional help. Often they are reluctant to do so. Occasionally a family member will step in to urge some form of therapeutic intervention. However, in the majority of cases, due to the stigma of mental illness, apathy, denial, ignorance, and medical provider unfamiliarity with post-traumatic pathologies, the condition will go unremediated for months if not years.
With the promise of some level of congressional help, IMCRA is launching a coordinated response to those left behind by deficiencies in the current VA system and local medical systems and their ability to reach servicemen and women who have been psychologically impacted by violence. IMCRA's Community Cyberspace system makes expert and interactive medical and counseling advice available to both regional physicians and well as patients and their families using a free-of-charge, completely anonymous electronic channel accessible via smartphones using the android or i-phone systems.
Although we have already mapped out and designed the details of this system expansion, even minor contributions will enable us to get it operational by year's end. Please help us make this a reality for the thousands who are just not getting the help they need. Even small donations add up quickly!
IMCRA is changing the focus of its Community Cyberspace program to concentrate exclusively on the scourge of post-traumatic mental disorders and the devastaing effect they have on daily life.
The unfortunate reality of 2014 is that we live in parlous times. Multiple small wars are now raging all over the globe. Violence by and against civilians is epidemic in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, the USA and elsewhere. Climate change has increased the incidence of dangerous weather conditions, and hurricanes and tornadoes are frighteningly more frequent. Soldiers, firemen and peace officers return from duty psychologically crushed by the horrors they have seen and participated in. Innocent citizens live shattered lives in the shadow of great natural and man-made catastrophes.
IMCRA has recently joined forces with a number of organizations, most recently the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (in process), to organize a series of interactive educational modules on the identification and long-term treatment of multiple post-traumatic mental disorders under the umbrella term PTSD.
These modules have been recorded by world-renowned experts in PTSD, TBI, and long-term trauma care. They are 100% interactive so both medical professionals and lay caregivers can access the system freely via an internet portal as well as by smartphone and mobile systems.
In August and September we are upgrading our delivery system to load more modules Among the advantages of the IMCRA system; it provides multi-level resources in the native language of the impacted populations and their caregivers, is anonymously accessed and used, allows download of further diagnostic and reference materials and provides a sequential pathway for psychological and psychosocial intervention at the level of the patient, family, physician and healthcare system.
Your kind help will speed this process and help in recruiting more medical experts.
IMCRA is launching an important new technology and we need your help to make it successful! Worldwide, the immediate aftermath of disaster most often includes disrupted communications. This can make access to online medical resources via laptop or desktop difficult to impossible even with good WiFi signal availability. Further, in remote locations with limited wired or WiFi connections the celphone is often the only tool available for electronic communications in all cases.
To meet the need for universal accessibility to free medical resources our Community Cyberspace program is now pioneering a system for access to the IMCRA interactive medical systems via handheld smartphones including Android and i-Phone. This program, under Dr. Noma's direction, will give system users access to IMCRA's expert faculty via an interactive hand-held application which will continue to operate within a 30 mile radius of any functioning celphone tower.
As shown in the figures below we are extending access to this system to patients as well as to caregivers. Finally, in emergency situations where handheld access may not permit digital manipulation of a screen or keyboard we are including multi-language voice-recognition software to enable users to navigate screens and access the desired modules with a minimum of manipulation. The programming and implementation expenses for this are not insignificant so every contribution to these efforts will have a very real and positive impact on many lives. Thanks!
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is one sequel to the Great East Japan Earthquake - and other natural and manmade disasters - that does not fade away with time. Recognizing this, IMCRA's Community Cyberspace Program became an integral participant of the Second Annual BUMC/VA Joining Forces Conference, held at Boston University School of Medicine, December 11th 2013.
The conference was organized in the wake of a recent White House Initiative called Joining Forces, focused on education, research and the clinical care of people suffering with TBI and PTSD. In the US, this particularly includes military veterans with additional post-deployment complications such as generalized anxiety disorder, affective disorders, and comorbid substance abuse.
IMCRA presented data on the global need for PTSD awareness and therapy, - especially in communities like Fukushima,- hard-hit physically, socially and psychologically by problems (e.g. radiation exposure) that do NOT diminish with time. We also discussed recogition of the long-term symptomatology of the disorder and how both early-stage and continuing clinical interventions can be highly beneficial both to victims and their families.
We are pleased to announce that the IMCRA website has also just opened a new section on global PTSD with several key presentations by noted medical experts captured for subsequent use and study by clinicians in Japan and worldwide. (http://www.imcra.org/Video.aspx?ContentItem.ItemID=388)
Along with its continuing efforts in Japan, our Community Cyberspace program has now expanded to initiate partnerships with other organizations such as IsraAid, Feed My Sheep, and MTI to bring both knowledge to practioners and aid to people deeply impacted by devastating and life-altering crises. We ask you to help us to continue our private psychiatric outreach to those in need.
Please note that today and tomorrow morning ONLY all donations made to the IMCRA Community Cyberspace PTSD program will be doubled.
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