Harper Government Supports Research to Benefit Canada's Veterans - Projects will help better diagnose and treat concussions and improve access to PTSD treatment

EDMONTON, Nov. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, highlighted the Harper Government's support for research that will benefit Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Veterans who suffer concussions in combat or experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"Our Government is committed to promoting injury prevention and helping improve the care and recovery of Canadians who suffer injuries," said Minister Ambrose. "In light of Remembrance Day, I am pleased to say that we are supporting research focused on improving the health of the brave Canadian men and women who have been injured in their service to our great country."

The Government recently funded three research projects that will advance our understanding of mild traumatic brain injuries, more commonly known as concussions, suffered by soldiers in military operations as the result of exposure to the blast force of explosive devices.

  • Dr. Yu Tian Wang at the University of British Columbia will study the biological changes that take place in the brain following an injury induced by an explosive device and test whether a new drug can restore brain cells affected by this kind of trauma.

  • Dr. Ibolja Cernak at the University of Alberta will look for a link between cerebellum damage and the chronic balance, memory and behaviour problems resulting from exposure to a blast.

  • Dr. Andrew Baker at St. Michael's Hospital will develop a blood-based test to determine whether an individual exposed to a primary blast has endured mild traumatic brain injury.

These projects will produce new tools and treatments to better diagnose and treat concussions. They will also help better understand the long-term effects of these injuries and ultimately improve the care of Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans.

The projects are funded through a partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Defence Research and Development Canada, an agency of the Department of National Defence. They are among 19 concussion research projects announced by Minister Ambrose on November 4, 2013, representing a total investment by the Government of $4.3M.

"Supporting the health, well-being and care of Canada's Veterans is a responsibility that our Government takes very seriously," said Minister Fantino. "Our men and women who have served in uniform put themselves on the line to defend us. It's only fitting that we work to gather cutting-edge information to ensure that injured Veterans can get the medical support that they deserve."

PTSD is another serious health concern for Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Veterans. It carries substantial health, personal and societal costs. However, effective treatments are available.

The Government is helping provide Canadian Veterans with greater access to an effective PTSD therapy. Through CIHR, the Government is supporting a research project that involves a partnership between a researcher and expert in psychotherapy for PTSD at Ryerson University in Toronto and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). Together they have trained mental health professionals working in VAC's operational stress injury clinics across the country to provide cognitive processing therapy, a type of psychotherapy that has proven to be highly effective in treating PTSD. The project will assess the skills of the mental health professionals in delivering the therapy and its impact on the symptoms of Veterans accessing this therapy through the clinics.

This project is one of several funded through CIHR that specifically focus on helping Canadian Armed Forces personnel and Veterans and their families overcome the challenges of PTSD. The funding for this work is part of an overall investment of $10.2M in research related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD since 2006.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

SOURCE: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information:

Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


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