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PTSD, TBI and Other Research Activities at VISN 20 MIRECC

PTSD, TBI and Other Research Activities at VISN 20 MIRECC

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN 20) Northwest Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (NW MIRECC) improves the health and well-being of Veterans by developing, evaluating, and disseminating novel effective treatments for military posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its complex comorbidities or co-occurring diagnoses. The most prominent of these co-occurring difficulties faced by Veterans are traumatic brain injury (mTBI), alcohol use disorder (AUD), chronic pain (in particular, post-concussive headaches), cognitive impairment, while others face an increased risk for neurodegenerative disorders (chronic traumatic encephalopathy [CTE] and Alzheimer's disease [AD]).

NW MIRECC approaches research in two ways: clinical and translational. In many instances, NW MIRECC partners with Veteran and non-Veteran volunteers as clinical research subjects to develop and evaluate effective treatments for military PTSD and its associated conditions, including mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), substance use disorders, chronic pain, and dementia.

Clinical Research

Through careful design and implementation of clinical research studies and with the help of volunteers in a wide range of research protocols, the NW MIRECC conducts cutting-edge measurements of brain structure to analyze their implication on behavior, --and engages volunteers in in-depth analysis of psychological, social and environmental factors that contribute to the maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury. NW MIRECC investigators are leaders in the performance of research lumbar punctures and in the innovative use of a common blood pressure medication (i.e., prazosin (link prazosin to 4/8/19 write-up)) for trauma-related nightmares, anxiety, and other behavioral symptoms that affect many Veterans with PTSD.

Call for Research Volunteers:

Wounded WarriorNW MIRECC is looking for volunteers who have not served in the military and for Veterans who served at a variety of times and who have experienced a variety of service-related conditions, including;

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which is also called a concussion
  • Headaches or other conditions that might start after an mTBI or concussion
  • Dementia and neurodegeneration, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
  • Gulf War Illness
  • Drug abuse and dependence
  • Stresses related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic

NW MIRECC investigators collaborate with researchers and clinicians across the University of Washington, University of Utah, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Oregon Health Science University, Department of Defense, and Veterans Affairs, as well as a host of academic, government, and industry partners around the world.

Translational Research

Another route to identifying potential treatments for PTSD and its associated conditions (specify associated conditions) is through laboratory studies that do not require the enrollment of Veterans. The nationally acclaimed NW MIRECC translational neuroscience program is a multidisciplinary research program dedicated to understanding and treating these disorders. Through basic discovery science and the development of innovative treatment strategies. Together, teams of clinicians and scientists work side-by-side to characterize and model the key features of these clinical problems, including the co-existing conditions of TBI and neurodegenerative disorders, and to then translate our findings from scientific theory or animal models into practical applications for Veterans.

Visit the Current Research Homepage to read about volunteer opportunities.

NW MIRECC Research Articles:   In Press | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

The mission of VA VISN 20 MIRECC is to improve the quality of life and function of Veterans by developing, evaluating and promoting the implementation of effective treatments for military PTSD and its complex comorbidities. These PTSD comorbidities include the behavioral consequences of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), substance use disorders, chronic pain, and dementia. The VA VISN 20 Northwest Health Network consists of four states across three time zones; Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. The primary research center located in VA Puget Sound Health Care System is affiliated with the University of Washington. VA Puget Sound serves Veterans from a five-state area in the Pacific Northwest with two main divisions: American Lake and Seattle. In Washington, there are VA clinics also located in Bellevue, Bremerton, Edmunds, Everett, Federal Way, Mount Vernon, Olympia, Port Angeles, Puyallup, Renton, Silverdale, and Seattle. The research center located at VA Portland Heath Care System is affiliated with the Oregon Health and Science University. VA Portland serves Veterans from Oregon and Southwest Washington with two main divisions: Portland and Vancouver. In Oregon, there are VA clinics also located in Bend, Fairview, Hillsboro, Newport, Lincoln City, Portland, Salem, The Dalles, Warrenton, and West Linn.

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VA Vet Center Logo Vet Centers in the VISN 20 Health Care Network are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active-duty Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families. 1-877-927-8387 is a free, around the clock confidential call center where Veterans, service members and their families can talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in transitioning after military service or trauma and get connected to their nearest Vet Center.

Veterans Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-8255 - If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, dial 911. If you are having thoughts of suicide, dial 988, then press 1 at the prompt to reach the Veterans Crisis Line

Veterans Crisis "988" - The Military Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource for all service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, and Veterans, even if they’re not enrolled in VA benefits or health care. Call 988 then Press 1 If you are a Veteran, service member, or any person concerned about one who is hard of hearing, you can connect with professional, caring VA responders through online chat and text message (838255). 

In Europe
Call 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118

In Korea
Call 080-855-5118 or DSN 118

In Afghanistan
Call 00 1 800 273 8255 or DSN 111

In the Philippines
Call #MYVA or 02-8550-3888 and press 7

A Veteran overseas may contact the Veterans Crisis Line via the chat modality at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat. If the Veteran prefers a phone call, they can request this within the chat venue. For TTY users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Are you looking for clinical care or counseling? Assistance with benefits? No matter what you’re experiencing, we’re here to connect you with resources and support systems to help. The Veterans Crisis Line is free and confidential. When you call, chat, or text, a qualified responder will listen and help. You decide how much information to share. Support doesn't end with your conversation. Our responders can connect you with the resources you need.

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VA has a variety of mental health resources, information, treatment options, and more — all accessible to Veterans, Veterans’ supporters, and the general public. Explore the pages below to learn more about a specific mental health topic. Each of these pages includes resources, information on treatment options, and more.

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