Back to Top Skip to main content

The NICoE: Ten years of Healing ‘The Invisible Wounds of War’

Image of man hooked up to machine and walking on treadmill The National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center houses the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN), a magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine used to analyze and train patient movement for peak efficiency and optimal execution. (WRNMMC photo).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence first opened its doors to patients in June 2010, and Military Health System officials celebrated the 10th anniversary of the center, dedicated to advancing the nation’s understanding of and healing the invisible wounds of war, during a ceremony June 25 at the facility.

The interdisciplinary model of care developed at the NICoE, a part of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, brings together neurologists, psychologists, family care doctors, psychiatrists, nutritionists, neuropsychologists, therapists, specialists and other professionals under one roof. This team collaborates in the diagnosis, treatment and care of MHS beneficiaries affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI) or those who may exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS). Their efforts have proven effective and allowed more than 90 percent of patients treated at the NICoE to continue on active duty in the armed forces, according to NICoE officials.

Research, treatment modalities and services at the NICoE include neuroimaging, art therapy, music therapy, animal-assisted therapy, audiology and vestibular care, a brain fitness center, driving assessment and rehabilitation, family education, and other complementary and integrative medicine techniques such as biofeedback, acupuncture and yoga. This Center of Excellence also houses the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment, a magnetoencephalography machine used to analyze and train patient movement for peak efficiency and optimal execution, and a 3T Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, which provides researchers access to cutting-edge image acquisition methods, such as multiband diffusion tensor imaging and echo planar imaging sequences.

Last year, more than 2,000 patients received care from NICoE providers in more than 34,000 clinical encounters in the four-week Intensive Outpatient Program, in TBI outpatient services, and in collaboration with inpatient teams from other WRNMMC directorates, figures from NICoE indicate.

Man painting a mask
The National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, offers patients affected by traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, driving assessment and rehabilitation, in addition to a number of other treatment modalities. (WRNMMC photo)

Navy Capt. (Dr.) Walter Greenhalgh, NICoE director, credited “the persistent, strong advocacy of leadership from WRNMMC, the National Capital Region Market, the Defense Health Agency and the Department of Defense” for NICoE’s ability to provide “safe, reliable and innovative” health care to the nation’s heroes and their families. He added that, WRNMMC’s leadership has “held a spotlight on NICoE while continuously pushing the NICoE team to strive to be the best that it can be, guiding NICoE to make the most of the amazing resources it’s been granted by the American people, while integrating TBI into the MHS’s Pathway of Care.”

“The WRNMMC leadership has held NICoE to the same high standards of safe, quality health care as they have with the rest of the hospital because the most deserving of patients and their families deserve nothing less,” Greenhalgh said. He added, how the standard of care has extended nationwide through the NICoE network of facilities and providers in the Intrepid Spirit Centers.

Dr. Thomas DeGraba, chief innovation officer and deputy director of NICoE, said what has remained unwavering since the center first opened its doors, is “the outstanding dedication and expertise of the NICoE staff to do what’s necessary at any cost to be able to help service members recover from the injuries they sustained in the protection of this country.”

DeGraba added that, NICoE helped break down the stigma of those treated for TBI and PTS. He explained how TBI and PTS were once thought to be untreatable, and troops were medically dischargedout of the service without a good strategy for recovery.

“This center, along with a number of colleagues through the MHS, have proven [TBI and PTS are treatable],” DeGraba said. “The brain does heal, and service members can come up with strategies to be able to deal with those stressors that have caused them challenges so they can get back to productive lives, as well as get back to the interpersonal relationships with their families and friends that many times are disrupted by TBI and psychological health issues,” he furthered.

Army Col. (Dr.) Andrew Barr, WRNMMC director, also saluted NICoE and its staff for its 10 years of serving the nation, its heroes and their families.

“These past few months and this global pandemic have shown us just how adaptable and resilient we can be in times of great uncertainty and change. NICoE has led the way at this time with innovative approaches to maintain our missions,” Barr said. He added that this is indicative of NICoE achieving countless examples of excellence during his decade-long history.

“The words ‘Center of Excellence’ are more than just buzz words,” Barr continued. “You are a center of excellence in the truest definition of the term. This is reflected in the patient care, research and education that happens here every day, and the tangible, positive improvements made in the lives of our patients and their families.”

“NICoE’s guiding principles of excellence, innovation, compassion, collaboration and honor are evident in all that you do, and your patient- and family-centered holistic approach to TBI research and care, serve as a model throughout the MHS and for many other health organizations across the globe,” Barr concluded.

In an interview published in the February 2015 National Geographic focused on “Healing Our Soldiers, Unlocking the Secrets of Traumatic Brain Injury,” Army Staff Sgt. Perry Hopman discussed how NICoE’s arty therapy program helped him.

Hopman, who served as a flight medic in Iraq, said about the art therapy, “I think this is what started me kind of opening up and talking about stuff and actually trying to get better.”

You also may be interested in...

Caregivers share their stories of support for TBI recovery

Article
11/23/2020
Group of people walking and on wheelchairs through the forest

"Recovery is possible to help lead a normal life."

Recommended Content:

November Toolkit | Warrior Care Month | National Family Caregivers Month | Traumatic Brain Injury

NICoE & ISC Network maintain TBI care during COVID-19

Article
11/19/2020
Image of United States map with locations noted

The Network leveraged their geographic distribution to help each other quickly adapt to changing times.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Traumatic Brain Injury

Sleep After mTBI

Infographic
11/19/2020
Sleep After mTBI

"Sleep After mTBI" is intended for providers to show the importance of screening and treating service members affected by sleep issues following mTBI.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources

TBI Champion Gary Moran

Video
11/17/2020
TBI Champion Gary Moran

SGM Gary D. Moran shares his TBI recovery story, and tips for talking to kids about TBI.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI Champions Roxana Delgado & Victor Medina

Video
11/17/2020
TBI Champions Roxana Delgado & Victor Medina

While he was deployed, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Victor Medina was in a vehicle that was hit by an explosive device. He sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that severely impaired some of his physical functions and ability to speak. Medina’s wife, Roxana Delgado, continued her pursuit of a Ph.D. in health sciences and became his caregiver. As they adjusted to a life neither one of them had imagined, their marriage became a new kind of partnership.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury

Find Your Story: TBI Champions

Video
11/16/2020
Find Your Story: TBI Champions

In this video, A Head for the Future’s TBI Champions share their experiences with traumatic brain injury and resources that helped them through recovery. They can help you too.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future

TBI Champion Micah Norgard

Video
11/16/2020
TBI Champion Micah Norgard

After 12 years as an infantryman, Norgard's biggest battle was recognizing the cumulative effects of multiple TBIs.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future

TBI Champion Derek Poor

Video
11/16/2020
TBI Champion Derek Poor

While instructing hand-to-hand combat training, U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Derek Poor slammed his head against a wall and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Seeing stars and unable to shake his persistent, daily headaches, Poor sought help.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI Champion Dalton Mask

Video
11/16/2020
TBI Champion Dalton Mask

Facing a long road to recovery following his TBI, Dalton remained positive and participated in the 2019 Warrior Games.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury

Talking TBI: Going Back to School

Video
11/16/2020
Talking TBI: Going Back to School

Marine Corps veteran Chris shares his experience going back to school following his TBI.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Talking TBI: Talking to Kids

Video
11/16/2020
Talking TBI: Talking to Kids

While on patrol in Iraq, former U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Gary Moran was knocked unconscious by an improvised explosive device, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Gary and his son discuss how TBI affected their relationship early on and ultimately brought them closer together.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future

TBI Champion Beth King

Video
11/16/2020
TBI Champion Beth King

Army veteran Beth King was on a routine mission when her helicopter was struck by an RPG, ultimately resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In this video, Beth shares the impact of her TBI and how she discovered her new passion along the way — recumbent biking.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury

Talking TBI: Connect with Others

Video
11/16/2020
Talking TBI: Connect with Others

Navy veteran Amanda Burrill and Army veteran Elana Duffy had a few things in common: They both lived in New York City, experienced traumatic brain injuries (TBI) while in service and were coping with the injuries alone. Until they met each other.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | A Head for the Future | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

How to develop a new relationship path after a TBI

Article
11/12/2020
A pair of hands clasped together

TBI can change the dynamics of a romantic relationship.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Progressive Return to Activity Clinical Support Tool Rehabilitation Providers

Publication
11/12/2020

This clinical support tool for rehabilitation providers details the algorithmic approach for enabling service members to return to pre-injury activity after sustaining a concussion/mild TBI. The tool is designed as a pocket-sized reference card, and supports the Progressive Return to Activity Following Acute Concussion/Mild TBI Clinical Recommendation for Rehabilitation Providers

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 13

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.