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PTSD Seminar Notes

I recently attended Cynthia Boyd, Ph.D.’s (San Diego Navy Medical Department) ”Invisible Wounds – The Hidden Trauma Facing Soldiers Returning from Iraq” seminar, in order to assist me in defending Veterans and injury victims.

She went into a variety of different issues that cause PTSD:

  1. RPG’s which are Rocket Propelled Grenades.
  2. IED’s which are Improvised Explosive Devices.
  3. Mortars, Road Side Bombs and Suicide Bombers which drive up next to our soldiers.

Dr. Boyd stated that 64% of the people returning from Iraq have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder injuries. Historically they have improved the care of soldiers because they have improved front line care for greater survival of direct physical injuries.

Blast injuries also create Post Traumatic Stress Disorders in which visible damage to their bodies were created by bombs.

Historically, in the Civil War, PTSD was called Nostalgia. In World War II it was called Shell Shock. In Vietnam it was called Battle Fatigue. Now it is called PTSD or Combat Stress.

In order to obtain a diagnosis for PTSD or Combat Stress you must have at least one month of exposure. Combat Stress is similar to most Post-Concussive symptoms, like TBI or Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Invisible injuries like TBI occur whether the soldier is thrown by a blast whether shrapnel penetrates the soldier or not. The blast waves create this problem without a direct blow to the head and this can cause Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD because the brain moves violently in the skull and sheers nerve fiber (like the Shaken Baby Syndrome).

Some of the symptoms include physical problems like:

  1. Headaches;
  2. Dizziness;
  3. Sensitivity to light and noise;
  4. Fatigue; and
  5. Balance

Cognitive symptoms can include:

  1. Slowing down in the processing of information, i.e. by analogy “my bell has been rung too many times”; and
  2. Organizational and problem solving skills.

Behavioral symptoms can include:

  1. Irritability;
  2. Personality changes; and
  3. Short Fuse.

Combat Stress can include:

  1. Suicide bombs;
  2. Daily fighting;
  3. Insurgents;
  4. Witnessing death; and
  5. No break in a 24/7 situation.

Some of the ways that people treat these symptoms are by self-medication with Alcohol which is common. Further the implications fallout issues are:

  1. Unemployment;
  2. Lacking in social support or relationship issues;
  3. Drug abuse;
  4. Domestic violence;
  5. Child abuse; and
  6. Custody issues.

Note that soldiers’ identities are tied to the military and PTSD is not an excuse, it is real and the only way to help persuade is by educating people of the realness of these conditions. Also note there is a difference between PTSD and an organic injury and that distinction needs to be made.

I suggest that you discuss that incarcerating the client will only aggravate his injury due to the stress of jail and most psychologists will indicate that he will be stressed in jail.

One person who might know more about this is a Sharon Hukill, M.S. and she is in La Mesa at (619) 589-8971. She attended Dr. Boyd’s seminar and I believe is a Psych Law Society member. So, I hope this helps you.