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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 2009 / 18 Mar-Cheshvan 5770

Getting well, helping others

By Kevin Ferris



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Send the best surgeon there is, someone who knows more than the mechanics of the body, someone who knows how to treat that drifting of the mind into the fizzling lights, how the mind seems to vanish into the skull's stratosphere of bone, untethered, rising to where the world ends, that edge, bring a doctor who can bring them back from there, and quick" — from Iraq vet Brian Turner's poem "9-Line Medevac," included in his collection "Here, Bullet"

This is another piece about health care, but not the politics. This is on the daily realities. The life and death decisions. The advances that come when the military and civilians work together. And the miracles.

Col. Rocco Armonda, M.D., filled me in on some of the decisions and advances in his area of specialty: traumatic brain injuries (TBI). And the life of one of his patients, Marine Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell, is a miracle in itself.

TBIs are one topic on the agenda at the Partnership for Military Medicine Symposium scheduled for Friday in Washington (www.hjf.org/symposium). Experts from the military, government, and civilian medicine will also discuss posttraumatic stress disorder, humanitarian aid, and infectious diseases, part of the "Country United" effort launched by the Henry M. Jackson and Tug McGraw Foundations. But the main focus is how collaboration between public (military) and private (civilian) medicine saves lives.

Dr. Armonda's career is a good example. He's steeped in the military, from West Point to Walter Reed. He commanded the 207th Neurosurgery Team — the "Skullcrackers" — for a year in Iraq. But a stint at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has also been crucial to his work, especially in the more than 500 TBI cases he's treated since returning from Iraq.

At Jeff, Armonda worked primarily with stroke patients. The emphasis was on protecting the brain, improving blood flow with catheter-based techniques from inside blood vessels. Today, those lessons help him with follow-up care in TBI cases.

"We treat these patients as though they have an evolving stroke," he says.

The blood vessels feeding the brain are monitored for spasms that might cut off oxygen. Ultrasound images are taken daily. Brain waves are checked for seizure activity or decreased oxygen flow.

"That's something that hadn't been done before," Armonda says.

That's one example of civilian practices' enhancing military efforts. But the information flows the other way, too.

In cases of severe injury — such as penetrating wounds from IED blasts or car bombs — the brain swells, threatening to crush uninjured parts of the brain or the brain stem, killing the patient. Doctors can prevent such damage by removing part of the skull, giving the brain room to swell. Not so long ago, given that death or a vegetative state was the likely outcome of such wounds, radical skull surgery wasn't the norm. The military's experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed that.

The skull operation, known as a hemi-craniectomy, alters the equation, Armonda says.

"What we're seeing is individuals achieving a higher degree of recovery," he says. "So the lesson learned there is, performing the hemi-craniectomy, doing it early, makes a difference in long-term functionality." Civilian hospitals are paying attention to the results, Armonda says.

Surviving such horrific wounds, of course, is just the beginning. Years of physical and cognitive therapy follow. Lifetime care is a given. As this is all new territory, there's no telling if the next day will bring progress or setbacks.

Tim Maxwell, Armonda's patient, has had his share of good and bad days since shrapnel from a mortar blast penetrated his skull in 2004. Half his brain doesn't function, so he had to relearn how to walk and use the right side of his body. In 2007, when the shrapnel was removed because it was leaking toxins into his spinal fluid, he actually lost mobility for a time.

Through it all, Maxwell has continued to improve, and in the process has focused on getting well and helping others. First, of course, are his wife and three children. But he's also helped his fellow Marines. He recommended the Corps start the Wounded Warrior Regiment, where injured Marines could support each other during recovery. Since retiring this year, he began SemperMax Mission (www.sempermax.com). Maxwell wants to reach out to vets and their families, especially those dealing with TBIs, who may be reluctant to seek help.

"The biggest problem is they won't talk about what happened, to their wives or their moms," Maxwell says. "They will talk to other guys who have been there. ... We want to find them, get them into the system, and connect them to the right person."

Maxwell will be among the honorees next weekend, a celebration not only of TBI survivors, but of the collaborative efforts that create such miracles and the unwavering dedication of so many to extend those blessings to others.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Kevin Ferris is commentary page editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.



Previously:


10/01/09: Helping the fighters thrive
09/03/09: Holder needs to explain dismissal of Philly case
08/19/09: Rage understandable, but what comes next?
08/05/09: A few words, and then some, from the Obama Center
04/29/09: Pity for ‘tortured’ terrorist?
04/22/09: For good or ill, to be a public figure is to have your image used and abused
03/11/09: GOP lacks leader but has potential
03/05/09: A dangerous naivete in foreign policy
02/25/09: Beware ‘dialogue’ on race
12/29/08: ‘Chicago II’: A governor's story
12/11/08: Operator: Welcome to transition hotline
12/03/08: How Obama will fight a growing front in Afghanistan
11/25/08: GOP ahead of curve for change
11/13/08: Prayers for President-elect Barack Obama
10/03/08: Obama's lowball attacks: Suggesting that McCain is a bigot runs afoul of the high-minded ‘unity’ tripe
09/06/08: It's unlikely that a President McCain would be driven by political ideology
09/04/08: Bold McCain will sharpen the contrasts

© 2008, Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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