Health Headlines: New therapy helping veterans with headaches and memory loss

Health Headlines: New therapy helping veterans with headaches and memory loss
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 11:27 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A new therapy has been developed specifically for headaches in veterans with brain injuries.

Memory loss and headaches still plague army veteran Michael Gater nearly 18 years after he received three traumatic brain injuries during his deployment in Iraq.

“Someone had taken an explosive satchel, thrown it on top of the vehicle, and it detonated,” he recalls.

Then, Michael’s military vehicle swerved to avoid a runaway truck that rolled over, suspending him in mid-air.

“I unbuckled my harness and when I unbuckled I came head first down on the driver’s hatch.”

Strike three was a tank hatch that knocked him in the head.

Those three incidents triggered 20 years of debilitating headaches and memory loss. That is, until he participated in a groundbreaking cognitive-behavioral study conducted by UT Health San Antonio.

It’s called cognitive-behavioral therapy for headaches or CBTH. The researchers modified psychotherapy treatment traditionally used for migraine sufferers.

Researchers say, “Not only did we see better headache outcomes which was kind of expected, we showed PTSD improvements that were comparable to a gold standard for PTSD treatment.”

During therapy, trained clinical psychologists taught vets how to prevent their headache triggers, manage stress, and reengage in daily activities.

Now, Michael says he’s working to pass along that information to others like him, “My mission is helping my veteran community and what I like to do is everything I learn, I pass on.”

The researchers are currently looking to replicate their findings in a more diverse sample. They plan to test CBTH in a larger trial at multiple military and VA sites around the United States.