Treating Traumatic Injuries and the Issues They Cause

New MIST program aims to integrate holistic methods with traditional methods of treating military patients with traumatic injuries.


In the Madigan Intrepid Spirit Transitions (MIST) program, holistic treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) includes traditional and nontraditional therapies as well as a little help from friends.

MIST is a 6-week intensive outpatient group for service members who have TBIs and other traumatic injuries, along with coexisting conditions, such as chronic pain or posttraumatic stress. Coexisting conditions can make cases more complex, said U.S. Army Colonel Beverly Scott, medical and program director of Madigan Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program and Intrepid Spirit Program in an interview with News . But she adds, “It’s never too late to help [patients] address a number of issues they may be having following a traumatic brain injury, dealing with pain, dealing with behavior health issues.”

Related: Let’s Dance: A Holistic Approach to Treating Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The MIST program serves only active-duty service members with referral from their primary care managers and other specialty services at Madigan or throughout the Regional Health Command-Pacific. Commanders must sign memoranda of understanding that patients will be off duty rosters for the duration of the program. “They’re making a commitment to help that service member get better,” Scott said.

The MIST program enrolls 8 to 12 service members at a time. The holistic focus allows patients to address chronic pain, insomnia, and cognitive issues through traditional means as well as less traditional means that include mindfulness training; art; such as creating symbolic masks; and yoga. The variety of approaches lets them “cherry pick the methods they believe will help them the most,” the News article reports, or what one member called “customizing their own multitool.”

Participants are encouraged to continue individual care within the TBI/Intrepid Spirit program. The MIST program aims to introduce them to the resources they can use going forward. Giving them tools they can use after they complete the program is an acknowledgment that the recovery process is ongoing. “We recognize it is a transition,” Scott said.

Related: Ideas for Helping TBI Patients

The MIST program has graduated 2 groups. Scott says, “We’ve seen incredible success,” both in wellness and in other areas, such as improved interpersonal relationships. Some of the credit goes to the peer support that MIST promotes. The curriculum is evidence based, but Scott says some “significant success is clearly related to soldiers helping soldiers.”

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