Q&A With Teresa Gomez-Lansidel: PTSD in Veterans
By Stephanie Yamkovenko
Since 2000, nearly 1 million active component service members have been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).1 The need for occupational therapy practitioners to care for veterans with PTSD may continue to grow as the rate of diagnosis appears to be increasing (diagnosis of PTSD raised six fold from 2003 to 2008).1
|Are you an occupational therapy practitioner working with clients with TBI, PTSD, or who are active service members and veterans? You can learn in-depth information about these topics from the leading experts at AOTA's Specialty Conference—Advanced Practice in Traumatic Injuries & PTSD and earn up to 13 contact hours. September 7 to 8 in San Antonio, Texas
Online registration ended, but you can still register on site!
|Teresa Gomez-Lansidel, OTR/L, works with veterans with PTSD at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas. Gomez-Lansidel is presenting at the upcoming AOTA Advanced Practice in Traumatic Injuries & PTSD Specialty Conference on Saturday September 8 at 9:15 a.m. AOTA talked to Gomez-Lansidel about the unique issues veterans with PTSD have and how occupational therapy can help.
AOTA: What are some of the difficulties that veterans with PTSD tend to have?
Gomez-Lansidel: The [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition text revision] DSM-IV-TR criteria for veterans with PTSD are to have at least two of three symptoms clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant and numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms. In my experience most of our veterans struggle within in all three clusters in some way or another. Often times a veteran with PTSD experiences high levels of anxiety, disconnect with personal and non-personal relationships, poor emotional regulation, and even depression.
AOTA: How can occupational therapy help with those problems?
Gomez-Lansidel: Some of the ways occupational therapy may assist is by introducing veterans to different ways to decrease stress, and improve social skills and social re-integration, sensory integration, time management, money management, goal setting, organizational skills, and study skills. They may also work with veterans on adjusting to role changes as they transition from military life, through accessing resources and disability advocacy.
AOTA: Why do you think occupational therapy is well suited to address PTSD in veterans?
Gomez-Lansidel: Generally speaking, occupational therapy’s holistic and functional approach makes for well-rounded treatment for veterans who are struggling with PTSD. Occupational therapy complements the recovery model theory as by recognizing the importance of respecting personal choices and cultural diversity and encouraging support from peers, allies, personal relationships, and social networks.
AOTA: What do you think is the most common mistake that occupational therapy practitioners make when it comes to working with clients with PTSD?
Gomez-Lansidel: It is important for everyone treating clients with PTSD to keep in mind the many issues that may accompany this diagnosis and to address them as needed by the individual client.
AOTA: What would you tell members who may be unsure about whether they should attend the specialty conference?
Gomez-Lansidel: Statistics can be very subjective; however, we do know that since October 2001 more than 2.4 million Americans have served in OEF/OIF/OND [Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn] conflicts. It is likely that as clinicians we will be in contact with a veteran or a veteran’s family member at some point. The original treatment diagnosis may be a rotator cuff injury or lower back pain; however, as an occupational therapist you have the skills or at least the ability to recognize that there may be some other underlying issues. This conference will help you understand military culture, some of the challenges our service members have faced, and how you can be a facilitator in their recovery.
Get information about Gomez-Lansidel’s session and register for the AOTA Advanced Practice in Traumatic Injuries & PTSD Specialty Conference here.
Stephanie Yamkovenko is AOTA’s staff writer.
1. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (2012, June). Medical Surveillance Monthly Report. Retrieved from http://www.afhsc.mil/viewMSMR?file=2012/v19_n06.pdf#Page=01