Archive for the ‘health care’ Category

Brain-injured troops face unclear long-term risks

December 4, 2008

Many of the thousands of troops who suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk of long-term health problems including depression and Alzheimer’s-like dementia, but it’s impossible to predict how high those risks are, researchers say.

About 22 percent of wounded troops have a brain injury, concluded the prestigious Institute of Medicine — and it urged precise steps for studying how these patients fare years later so chances to help aren’t missed.

The Veterans Affairs Department, which requested the report, and the Pentagon already are taking some of the recommended steps. But a report out Thursday highlights the urgency.

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

An Afghan soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint in Kabul in August ...

“I don’t think we really knew how big a hole in scientific knowledge there is about blast-induced brain injuries,” said Dr. George Rutherford of the University of California, San Francisco, the report’s lead researcher.

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a signature injury of the Iraq war. Most do not involve penetrating head wounds but damage hidden inside the skull caused by an explosion’s pressure wave. It can range from a mild concussion to severe injury. And because symptoms may not be immediately apparent, troops may not seek care.

“If you have a gunshot wound to some specific part of your brain, I can tell you the consequences,” Rutherford said. But with blast concussions, it’s not even possible to say “if you have six of these, are you six times more likely to have something bad happen to you than if you’ve had one?”

Returning soldiers have reported headaches, dizziness, memory loss, confusion, irritability, insomnia and depression. The military has said most of the TBI-injured troops recover with treatment.

“There’s clearly a whole bunch of people who have mild TBI who have no negative outcomes,” Rutherford agreed.

Related:
PTSD, psychological health and traumatic brain injuries

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081204/ap_on_he_me/med_brain_injury

Obama’s Many “Number One” Priorities

December 3, 2008

Remember this simple catchphrase for priorities: “It’s the economy, stupid”?

Many think that should be the watchword for the new President Barack Obama.  But a confusing and dangerous miasma of foreign policy challenges lurks and lurches ahead. Without carefully applied wisdom, the United States could make matters worse on a wide range of international fronts and issues…

President-elect Barack Obama waits to get on his plane with ... 
President-elect Obama with his two Blackberris and some light reading.
(Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

Yesterday, two think tanks said the U.S. should move away from Iraq and work like the devil on the nuclear covetous Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran.

The Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations said it is time to make peace in the Middle east as a “top priority.”  For the past six years under President George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy in the region has been dominated by Iraq, said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, and Richard Haass, president of the Council.

Now the two agree the real problem is Iran.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at the U.N. ... 
Nuclear aspirant: Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran

One difficulty with this line of thinking is that, depending on the day, the think tank report one considers, and the newspaper headline, America faces stadium full of “top priorities.”

In Russia, Medvedev and Putin believe they should be tops on the Obama agenda.  Mr. Medvedev even threatened to deploy nuclear armed missiles in Eastern Europe unles and until the U.S. backed off of its missile defense ambitions with Poland and the Czech Republic.

And the Medvedev/Putin thrust cannot be overlooked: the two had no qualms about invading Georgia to get the attention of the U.S. and NATO: and it worked.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits a ballistic missile ...
Russia’s Medvedev, in front of a startegic Russian missile, said his missile advances will overwhelm U.S. defensive measures in the next few years.
AFP/Pool/File/Dmitry Astakhov

Terrorism could be the number one priority.  Just yesterday the U.S. Director of National Security said in essence that the Pakistani Islamist radical militant group  Lashkar-e-Taiba  blew up Mubai, India, last week, killing nearly 200.

On the same day, yesterday, a group of wise men said the U.S. can expect to face a biological or chemical attack.

Is another 9-11 in America’s future?  And are we ready to defend or respond?

Pakistan itself might lay claim to Mr. Obama’s top priority.  Bankrupt, last weekend rioters ripped through the nations largest city, the Pakistani Army was pinned down by terrorists in the tribal areas, and the nuclear-armed government was under fire from all domestic and international sides over Mumbai.

A Pakistani newspaper wondered yesterday if the Army was about to break with the elected government of mr. Zardari and his Minister Mr. Gilani.

Then there are a few small matters with China, North Korea and you name it.

Oh and there are just a few domestic realities and campaign promises that need our next president’s attention: OPEC and oil, drill or not to drill, schools and education, tax relief, jobs and unemployment,health care, AIDS and the list goes on.

You won’t convince me for a second that the modern miracle of multi-tasking and several Blackberries will resolve this poisonous soup.

America needs to take a deep breath and close its eyes: too much Obama-mania could cause one not to think.

Mr. Obama, the United States, all Americans and all Western allies are in for some very hard work, sacrifices of an unknown nature, and difficult decisions.

Here’s a simple truth: The age of simplicity is over.

*****

From Wikipedia:

It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase in American politics widely used during Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush. For a time, Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf war. The phrase, coined by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, refers to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.

PTSD, psychological health and traumatic brain injuries

December 3, 2008

The number one question we see here at Peace and Freedom is: how can we better help soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Dealing appropriately with psychological health and traumatic brain injuries is the watchword…

****** 

The military finally is getting ahead in the head business — tackling the psychological health and traumatic brain injuries of soldiers and their families in a comprehensive way.

It’s happening at the moment under the leadership of an energetic, Shakespeare-quoting Army psychiatrist, Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton. Gen. Sutton holds a medical degree from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif. She completed her internship and residency in psychiatry at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco.

By Ann Geracimos    
The Washington Times

Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton is director of the Defense Centers of Excellence, an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with the health and wellness of soldiers. The department seeks to care for troops before and after they suffer trauma. (Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times)

Above: Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton is director of the Defense Centers of Excellence, an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with the health and wellness of soldiers. 

Gen. Sutton, 49, is director of the year-old Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE), an arm of the Department of Defense dealing with health matters. The concept is to find the means of caring for troops and their leaders before, as well as after, service members and their relations suffer the debilitating effects of trauma.

The game plan focuses on building up what is being called “resilience” among the military’s many warrior volunteers as well as providing more and better treatment options for visible and invisible injuries of this type in a totally integrated program for recovery and reintegration. Gen. Sutton describes it as a network “like the Internet — a collaborative global network” functioning in a partnership, which is expected to take four years to put fully in place.

The plan, and its three R’s — resilience, recovery, reintegration — had a big workout at a recent three-day DCoE symposium, “Warrior Resilience Conference: Partnering With the Line,” and attended mainly by service members involved in health matters. Billed as the first of its kind, the event at the Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks typified what the organization sees as its mandate: promoting a shift of emphasis in the military away from what is known, in jargon terms, as an “illness-based medical model” toward a “wellness-centric resilience continuum.”

The latter phrase is a mouthful, with good reason, covering as it does a range of approaches that almost directly counter traditional military culture and practices.

“It’s ironic how the military trains us to overcome discomfort but not how to deal with invisible injuries,” Gen. Sutton notes. “As soldiers, we keep a lid on our feelings while we do our job. But nobody tells us when to take the lid off or how to deal with it when we do.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec
/02/military-marches-toward-wellness/

Some vindication for sick vets, but little relief

December 1, 2008

Ground combat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War lasted just 100 hours, but it’s meant 17 years of pain and anguish for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

Those who came home and complained of symptoms such as memory loss and joint pain are only sicker. Even as their lives unraveled as their health further deteriorated, many were told their problems were just in their head.

But, recently, many of the sufferers were given a new reason to hope. Earlier this month, a high-profile advisory panel to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake affirmed previous research that a collection of symptoms commonly known as Gulf War illnesses are real and require treatment. The country has a “national obligation” to help them, the panel concluded.

The report, however, also noted a sad reality: Of the $340 million in government funds spent to research the topic, little has focused on finding treatments. And, researchers said, the estimated 175,000-210,000 Gulf veterans who are sick aren’t getting any better.

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer

Many of those veterans are left wondering what’s next for them. The panel, created by Congress, said at least $60 million should be spent annually for research, but some veterans question if in these economically strapped times the money will be made available.

“I just hope that our elected officials pay attention to it and they accept that it is true,” said James Stutts, 60, of Berea, Ky., a retired Army lieutenant colonel and physician who struggles to walk and gave up practicing medicine because of memory problems after serving in the war. “It’s not a stress-related, nor is it a psychosomatic, issue. It is true. It is real. There is pain, not only for the veteran, but their families.”

The sad irony, said John Schwertfager, a veterans advocate in Ohio, is that many of the veterans who came home physically sick and were told wrongly it was a mental condition now struggle with real mental health problems after years of chronic pain and personal problems such as divorce and the inability to work.

“A slow, steady deterioration is what I’m seeing,” Schwertfager said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081201/ap_on_
go_ot/gulf_war_illness;_ylt=AlMl3qpwj
.e._ihiBMQizYSs0NUE

U.S. trails other nations in chronic illness care

November 13, 2008

Chronically ill Americans are more likely to forgo medical care because of high costs or experience medical errors than patients in other affluent countries, according to a study released on Thursday.

By Will Dunham, Reuters
.
The study comparing the experiences of patients in eight nations reflected poorly on the U.S. health care system as President-elect Barack Obama and his allies work on plans to rein in health costs and extend insurance to more people.

The researchers questioned 7,500 adults in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the United States. Each had at least one of seven chronic conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and depression.

Dutch patients had the fewest complaints, while the Americans had plenty, according to the study by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health policy research group.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081113/us_nm/us_healthcare_
comparison;_ylt=Ah_gVcf5fUA4FH5wqRF3Ew2s0NUE

Congress isn’t waiting for Obama

November 13, 2008

Lawmakers are unveiling plans to expand health coverage and curb global warming. And Democratic leaders have called a lame-duck session next week to discuss an auto industry bailout.
.
More than two months before he is sworn in, Barack Obama already is facing a Congress busily asserting itself on the timing and details of the president-elect’s agenda, including major issues like healthcare and economic policy.

By Janet Hook, Noam N. Levey and Peter Nicholas
The Los Angeles Times
.
Committee chairmen are unveiling legislation to expand health insurance coverage and curb global warming. Democratic leaders have called a lame-duck session next week to consider an auto industry bailout. And other economic stimulus measures may be enacted even before Obama is inaugurated.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
nation/la-na-agenda13-2008nov13,0,3893199.story

Testing of Obama Begins

November 10, 2008

It seems we at Peace and Freedom wrote this same article a few days ago!  See:
“Testing” of Obama Has Already Begun

Now, finally, a big-time columnist takes it on….

By Linda Chavez
The Washington Times

If Barack Obama were elected president, he would be tested by a major international crisis soon after taking office. Mr. Biden was wrong about one thing: The test has come even before President-elect Obama is sworn in.

Within hours of Mr. Obama’s impressive victory, another new leader, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, warned that Russia would deploy short-range missiles capable of hitting NATO territory if the new American president goes ahead to build a missile defense system to protect Europe.

President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy ... 
President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy missiles on the EU’s doorstep in a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington’s allies in central Europe.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

It’s unclear where a President Obama will come down on this issue. He’s been on both sides during the campaign.

The idea of an anti-missile defense system, of course, is not new. The United States has been working on an anti-missile system to protect our territory since the Reagan administration. The Strategic Defense Initiative – often derisively dismissed as “Star Wars” by its critics – fundamentally changed the way the U.S. approached the idea of nuclear war.

Through much of the Cold War, the United States based its defense almost entirely on a good offense: mutually assured destruction (MAD). We would have so many weapons that the Soviets would realize that an attack on us would be suicidal. If they launched a surprise nuclear attack on us, enough of our missiles would survive to retaliate against them, and annihilation would be the fate of both sides.

But Reagan changed the equation. Essentially abandoning the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which allowed the Soviets and the U.S. to set up anti-missile systems to protect only their two capitals, Reagan announced he would explore building a defense shield to protect the entire country.

Some 20 years later, U.S. technology in this area has advanced to the point that we are capable of deploying a limited system to protect our allies. Last year, the U.S. announced that negotiations were under way with some of our friends in Europe to deploy anti-missile systems on their territory. For some of those allies, the primary threat they fear is a nuclear-armed Iran. Although, Poland, with whom we’ve now signed an agreement, also fears a newly belligerent Russia. But the Bush administration has been at pains to reassure an insecure Russia that any American-deployed system would be purely defensive – a so-called “hit-to-kill” strategy in which a missile’s technology would not even include explosives but would rely on intercepting a nuclear missile before it hit its target.

A launcher of short-range Iskander missile rides in a column ...
A launcher of short-range Iskander missile rides in a column of Russian military vehicles, during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in downtown Moscow, in this Tuesday, April 29, 2008 file photo. President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, that Russia will deploy the short-range Iskander missiles to Russia’s Kaliningrad region, which lies between Poland and the ex-Soviet republic of Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, in response to U.S. missile defense plans. He did not say whether the missiles would be fitted with nuclear warheads.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
nov/10/testing-begins/

Economy won’t stop Obama’s priorities, aides say

November 9, 2008

The economic crisis will not stop President-elect Barack Obama from expanding health care, overhauling education and energy policy, and passing a middle-class tax cut soon after he takes office in January, senior aides said on Sunday.

Meanwhile the U.S. Congress should act to ease the pain of an economy sliding into recession by extending unemployment benefits and boosting aid to states struggling to meet their health-care obligations, they said.

Obama’s transitional team has outlined an ambitious agenda for the next several months as it scrambles to assemble an administration in the face of what is widely viewed as the worst economic slump since the Great Depression.

By Andy Sullivan, Reuters

The economic crisis will not prevent Obama from pursuing the priorities he outlined on the campaign trail, said John Podesta, co-chair of Obama’s transition team.

These include extending heath care to the nation’s 47 million uninsured, reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil, and improving public education, Podesta said.

“These are all core, if you will, economic questions and they need to be tackled together, and I think you’ll have a program, and a strategy to move aggressively across all those fronts,” Podesta said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

Congress is expected to return in a temporary session as soon as next week to take up a stimulus package defeated by Senate Republicans in September.

That package should not be tied to a free-trade deal with Colombia as some Republicans have suggested, said Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who will become Obama’s chief of staff when he takes office on January 20.

“You don’t link those essential needs to some other trade deal,” Emanuel said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081109/pl_nm/us_usa_politics_
stimulus;_ylt=AuXMEwYg.GtybLaxEx.SZdGs0NUE

Power struggle may open rift among House Democrats

November 7, 2008

Opening a split among congressional Democrats that could affect President-elect Barack Obama’s efforts to curb global warming, a California environmentalist is trying to wrest control of a crucial House committee from its chairman, who is the automobile industry’s strongest ally in fighting stricter antipollution standards.

By Janet Hook
The Los Angeles Times

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) has announced that he wants to replace Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will take the lead on Obama’s signature issues of energy, global warming and healthcare.

Henry Waxman
Above: Henry Waxman

Over the years, Dingell has given invaluable support to the auto companies’ fights against pollution and fuel economy standards that they considered unrealistic, and Waxman’s challenge to his leadership is the culmination of a decades-long rivalry between the two powerful lawmakers, the panel’s top two Democrats.

The outcome of the fight could affect whether action on Obama’s energy agenda will be tilted toward the interests of Rust Belt industrial Democrats or more aggressive antipollution efforts that California has spearheaded.

It opens divisions among triumphant Democrats just as they come off a landmark election that put Obama in the White House and expanded the party’s majorities in the House and Senate — and it is a window into how power struggles among Democrats may intensify now that there is so much more power to wield.

Dingell allies say Waxman’s unexpected move is divisive and will sow dissent just as the party should be rallying together.

“There is no basis for removing Chairman Dingell,” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said in a conference call with Dingell supporters. “The implication that Mr. Dingell wouldn’t move environmental legislation as quickly as Mr. Waxman has no basis in reality.”

In a letter Thursday to all House Democrats, Dingell said he was better prepared to move the Obama agenda and insisted that he was committed to addressing the climate change problem.

“An Obama presidency will allow us to quickly complete our work and protect the environment,” he wrote.

The Obama transition team has not weighed in on the dispute, but the person managing congressional relations for the team is Phil Schiliro, a former longtime Waxman aide. Global warming is a thorny issue for Obama because there are high expectations for him to address the problem. At the same time, Obama carried Michigan and must be concerned about the survival of the U.S. auto industry.

Dingell, who in the Democratic primaries endorsed the presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, represents a district near Detroit, and the loss of his position would be seen as a blow to the auto industry at a particularly trying time. Detroit is being battered by declining car sales, high gas prices and an economy in turmoil. In a sign of the political sensitivity of the fight, several auto industry spokesmen declined to comment on the choice between Dingell and Waxman.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is officially neutral in the dispute, but she is known to be sympathetic to Waxman’s positions on the environment and has repeatedly crossed swords with Dingell over the years:

* In 2002, Pelosi endorsed an unsuccessful primary challenger to Dingell.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks about economic stimulus plans ...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 5, 2008.(Mitch Dumke/Reuters)

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-
energy7-2008nov07,0,1179722.story

“Testing” of Obama Has Already Begun

November 6, 2008

Russia, China and the tangled web of a very troubled economy have already conspired to begin the “testing” of president Elect Barack Obama.

During the campaign for the White House, Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “Mark my words.  It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev began the process of testing America’s new President Elect Obama yesterday during his State of the Nation address.

Medvedev did not welcome or congratulate Barack Obama on his election and entry on to the world stage as the elected leader of the United States.  Instead, Medvedev launched a verbal assault on U.S. foreign policy and announced that he would order the deployment of short-range missiles to Kaliningrad, facing Poland and the joint U.S.-Polish missile defense site.

He said Russian missiles would “neutralize” the planned U.S. missile-defense system.

“From what we have seen in recent years — the creation of a missile defense system, the encirclement of Russia with military bases, the relentless expansion of NATO — we have gotten the clear impression that they are testing our strength,” Medvedev said.

President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy ... 
President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy missiles on the EU’s doorstep in a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington’s allies in central Europe.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

He signaled Moscow would not give in to Western calls to pull troops from Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or rescind its recognition of their independence following the August war.

“We will not retreat in the Caucasus,” he said, winning one of many rounds of applause during the televised 85-minute address.

“There’s no question that this is designed as a test for the Obama administration,” said Kimberly Marten, a professor of political science who specializes in Russian foreign policy at Columbia University’s Barnard College in New York.

The BBC said of Medvedev, “He could have made the speech on any day in November.  Instead he chose 5 November, the day after the US presidential election.”

“It’s posturing,” she said. “Kaliningrad is already so heavily militarized — there are tactical nuclear weapons from the Russian side there — so these missiles wouldn’t actually have any particular major impact on the defense balance in the region.”

China also scheduled a major military event this week: the huge China airshow.

A model of ARJ21 jet is seen on the opening day of China Airshow ... 
A model of ARJ21 jet is seen on the opening day of China Airshow 2008 in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong province, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. China’s biggest commercial aircraft maker landed its first foreign order Tuesday when General Electric Co. announced its plane-leasing arm would purchase at least five of the company’s new regional jets. The order for the 70-seat ARJ21 jets made by Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China includes an option to purchase as many as 20 more, said GE spokesman Geoff Li.(AP Photo/EyePress)

Add to these major foreign policy challenges Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.

And don’t forget the economy and a host of domestic promises Mr. Obama made about taxes, healthcare and other agenda items.

The testing of the President-Elect is underway….

Related:
Best Analysis of Obama’s Economic Challenges, From The BBC and Peter Morici, Univ of Maryland

Testing of Obama Begins
By Linda Chavez, November 10, 2008