Military Health Matters

Stories and features pertaining to Veterans Health Issues.

Help for those living with concussion
Health, Military Health Matters, Uncategorized

Help for those living with concussion

The long days and nights of pandemic social isolation are tough on military veterans with symptoms of traumatic brain injury, especially those living alone—and particularly those who shrugged off seemingly minor head injuries and haven’t connected their symptoms to concussion. The structure of daily life has been disrupted; the radio and television get a harder workout, resulting in headaches from glare and blare. It’s easier to drift off into a nap, with disastrous results for an already disrupted sleep routine. Friends and colleagues are less available to provide company and help negotiate the new rules that can be confusing for those with memory problems and brain fog. People around them seem to be walking on eggshells, but sufferers shrug that off, too: of course, they’re more ir...
A military response to the pandemic
Health, Military Health Matters

A military response to the pandemic

Truly, the Canadian Armed Forces has to be ready for anything. It has to be ready to respond quickly to domestic and international emergencies and natural disasters, while simultaneously keeping our borders safe—no matter how many personnel might be out sick. Throughout most of history, more troops have died from disease than in battle; Canada broke that sorry tradition in the First World War. It was among the first to embrace vaccinations and to make hygiene and sanitation a command responsibility, resulting in lower rates of sickness and fewer deaths from infectious diseases. The importance of maintaining a healthy force was brought home in March when several global military commanders went into self-quarantine. Russian aircraft began stepping up the number of patrols that skirt o...
Progress in the fight against malaria
COVID-19, Military Health Matters

Progress in the fight against malaria

In June, military researchers in the United States announced that a COVID-19 vaccine would be ready for testing on humans before the end of the year. That same month, The Lancet, the prestigious medical journal, announced a new approach to fight malaria. The mosquito-borne disease infected an estimated 216 million people globally in 2018, claiming 405,000 lives. (In comparison, by July 21, 2020, there were more than 14.5 million COVID-19 cases, and more than 600,000 deaths.) Deaths from malaria were halved in the past decade—a dramatic reduction in the annual death rate of a scourge that has plagued humankind since the dawn of history—but it has still killed millions, mostly in Africa and mostly children, since 2000. One scientist has estimated malaria could account for the deaths o...
MILITARY HEALTH MATTERS: Checking on your buddies
Military Health Matters

MILITARY HEALTH MATTERS: Checking on your buddies

When this column was written, the world was still in lockdown, practising social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine. Who knows when social distancing can end, or whether we’ll be in and out of lockdown a number of times as the virus peaks and wanes and peaks again. These measures are tough enough on those who are physically and mentally hale and healthy, but they can be even harder on vulnerable veterans and add to the pressures on their families and caregivers. Isolation leads to loneliness, which can lead to major depression, which is implicated in the development of a host of health effects including increased risks of heart attack, insomnia, increased pain sensitivity, weakened immune system and suicidal thoughts and behaviour. “No one stands on a roof and says, ‘I’m lonely...
Music soothes the injured brain
Military Health Matters

Music soothes the injured brain

In treating Canadian soldiers returning from the First World War with psychological wounds, British musician Margaret Anderton discovered music does indeed have “charms to soothe the savage breast.” “Wood instruments,” she observed, “are particularly potent for a certain kind of war-neurosis because of their penetrating, sustained tone.” Anderton went on to teach the first music therapy course at Columbia University. But neither she, nor the poet William Congreve who coined the phrase two centuries earlier, would have had any idea that such soothing sounds are more than music to the ears. Music can help remodel an injured brain. Modern scanning technology that reveals the inner workings of the brain has provided evidence of the effectiveness of music therapy. It is now used widely in ...
Ten years of research yields results
Military Health Matters

Ten years of research yields results

The 10th anniversary of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research forum provides an opportunity to look back—and to look forward. A decade ago, nobody had yet counted the number of homeless veterans or veterans’ suicides in Canada; today there are robust programs tackling both—and involving the whole of society, including government departments, civilian agencies and veterans’ advocacy organizations such as The Royal Canadian Legion. Similar leaps in knowledge have been made on every front, from diagnosis to treatment to prevention, for serving members of the military, veterans, RCMP and their families.  CIMVHR has grown into a network of 1,700 researchers at dozens of universities, research institutes and government departments, tackling subjects massive and mund...