Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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 | Centers of Excellence

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...

Help With Ongoing Symptoms Following Concussion/Mild TBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
4/28/2021

Although the majority of service members recover from concussion with little to no intervention, some experience symptoms beyond the first three months after their initial injury. This fact sheet addresses why symptoms continue to persist in some patients and how they can cope or seek additional help.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | TBI Educators | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

What You Should Know About Concussions Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
3/30/2021

This fact sheet is designed to educate deployed service members about traumatic brain injuries immediately after concussion injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Vision Problems After Concussion Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
3/30/2021

This fact sheet helps concussed service members understand vision problems and provides insight into treatment options.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Ride Right Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

This bicycle safety fact sheet provides tips to protect your head and help prevent TBI while riding a bike. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

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

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Bicycle and Motorcycle

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right ride, with information about different safety features in helmets for bicycling and riding motorcycles.

Recommended Content:

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

Respect the Road

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

One of the leading causes of military traumatic brain injury is motor vehicle crashes. This car safety fact sheet provides tips to help prevent TBI while driving a motor vehicle and safety measures to take to keep passengers safe. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Month

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Football and Baseball

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right sport, with information about different safety features in helmets for football and baseball.

Recommended Content:

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

Cruise with Control

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

One of the leading causes of military traumatic brain injury is motor vehicle crashes. This fact sheet provides tips on how to stay safe on motorcycles to help prevent TBI while riding. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

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

Heads Up; Sports Safety

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

This fact sheet provides sports safety tips to prevent or minimize sports-related traumatic brain injury. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

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

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Winter Sports

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right sport, with information about different safety features in helmets for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Recommended Content:

A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Winter Safety

Ways to Improve Your Memory Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This TBICoE fact sheet can be used by health care providers to educate patients with concussion/mild traumatic brain injury on how to manage memory problems related to their injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Educators | Provider Resources | Patient and Family Resources

TBI Awareness Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet describes the main causes of traumatic brain injury and the importance of prompt and proper treatment.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Screening | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | Worldwide TBI Numbers

Head Injury and Dizziness Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet can be used to educate patients with concussion/mild TBI on how to manage dizziness related to their injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources

Concussion/Mild TBI Signs and Symptoms Spanish Version Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet — in Spanish — identifies major physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms of concussion/mild TBI, and provides coping and recovery tips.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | TBI Screening

Neck Pain Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

Neck pain can occur together with headaches following a concussion. This fact sheet provides information to help patients manage neck pain. Various techniques are explained, including the use of heat or cold therapy, neck stretches, proper sleep positions and common activities that may contribute to neck strain.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

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.