Tulane University received a $12.5 million grant for the creation of a new Center for Brain Health, which will focus on treating brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans.

The grant, announced in a university press release, comes from The Avalon Fund, an organization that works to fund treatments for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries in veterans. Partnering with the university’s school of medicine and center for sport, the new clinic will diagnose and treat discharged veterans and their spouses beginning in fall 2020, according to the press release.

The Defense and Veterans Brian Injury Center reported that 15,262 service members were diagnosed with TBI throughout most of 2019. Between 11 percent and 20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom were diagnosed with PTSD in a given year, according to the National Center for PTSD.

Tulane is “nationally renowned for the care it provides to retired professional athletes through partnerships with the NFL Player Care Foundation and The Trust (Powered by the NFLPA),” according to the university.

University officials said in the press release that this new center will include an evaluation, outpatient services and follow-up for at least one year after a patient is discharged. Dr. Gregory Stewart, who will oversee the new center, is also the director of the school’s Professional Athlete Care Team (PACT), which promotes the health and safety of former professional athletes.

“We’re really excited to serve this population,” Stewart said. “It’s certainly an honor for us to have been asked to join this group and to help take care of the individuals who put their lives at risk to protect us and protect our freedoms.”

The new center will also begin research into other health concerns, such as cardiovascular and psychological conditions, that affect both veterans and professional athletes, according to the center’s website. Services offered by the new clinic will include speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and individual and group veterans’ relations, among others.

Eventually, the center hopes to treat up to 400 patients each year, primarily using word-of-mouth in the veteran community to reach out to new patients, Stewart told the Military Times. He said the center has no intention to compete with the VA hospital, but instead wants to partner with them on more difficult cases of TBI and PTSD.

The Center for Brain Health is its own program specifically for veterans; however, some providers and space used for treatment will overlap with the PACT clinic for professional athletes, Stewart said.

“We are very proud and excited about the launch of the Tulane University Center for Brain Health. Our focus on veterans — caring for former members of our armed forces— is an honor beyond words,” Stewart said in the press release. “Thanks to our work at the PACT clinic, we’ve built a team uniquely skilled to provide customized care to address the healthcare needs of this population.”

Stewart and his staff are no stranger to treating individuals who face physical and emotional challenges in the transition from a professional career to private life, according to the university.

Stewart is also the director of Tulane’s Professional Athlete Care Team (PACT), which has cared for retired professional athletes through partnerships with the NFL Player Care Foundation and The Trust (Powered by the NFLPA) since 2011.

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