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Pentagon Tells Congress It Is Studying Brain-Damage Therapy

by T. Christian Miller
Dec 23, 2010

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Earlier this week, an investigation by NPR and ProPublica reported that Tricare, the Pentagon's health plan, refuses to pay for a therapy that teaches everyday life skills to those who suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Tricare has said that scientific evidence does not justify providing for the treatment known as cognitive rehabilitation. But NPR/ProPublica investigation found that internal and external reviewers of the Tricare-funded assessment criticized it as fundamentally misguided. Confidential documents obtained by NPR and ProPublica show that reviewers called the Tricare study "deeply flawed," "unacceptable" and "dismaying."

Last month the Pentagon sent a letter to members of Congress worried about the treatment of soldiers who suffered brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The letter, which was previously unreported, told House and Senate members that the military is studying the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation therapy. The letter includes contradictions of previous Pentagon statements. Notably, it makes no promise that brain-damaged soldiers will receive cognitive rehabilitation any time soon. It does not mention the critiques of the Tricare study.

Read more analysis of this letter at ProPublica's Web site.

(T. Christian Miller, of ProPublica, and NPR's Daniel Zwerdling have been reporting this year on troops returning home with traumatic brain injuries. Click here for the NPR News investigation Brain Wars: How The Military Is Failing Its Wounded.)

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