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Dept of Defense opens new brain injury center

The United States Defense Department has opened the  $65 million National Intreprid Center of Excellence at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland to address the psychological and neurological damage caused by traumatic brain damage in wounded soldiers.

Neurologist Thomas DeGraba, the center's chief of medical operations, said family care is central to the facility's holistic approach to healing. The Fisher House Foundation, established by Arnold Fisher's family, is building a 21-room residence next door for the exclusive use of families with patients at the center.

DeGraba said the cost of running the center is estimated at $31 million a year. He said it will serve as a hub for all the military's traumatic brain injury and  post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) care. Treatments developed at the center will be shared with other military and VA facilities, he said.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said studies indicate that more than 10 percent of returning troops have suffered concussions and at least 12 percent have exhibited symptoms of combat stress, depression or other mental problems that can mimic brain injuries.

DeGraba said one of the center's goals is to better distinguish the source of such symptoms and treat them accordingly.

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