Archive for December, 2009

Nerve Regeneration Research Shows Promise for Trauma Victims

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

The Mayo Clinic reports in the most recent issue of Discovery’s Edge that Dr. Michael Yaszemski, an orthopedic surgeon and biomedical engineer, and Dr. Anthony Windebank, a neurologist and molecular neuroscientist, are making progress on regenerating peripheral nerves and bone that have been damaged in warfare.

The two Mayo Clinic surgeons are co-directors for nerve injury research in AFIRM (the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine), a consortium of 16 institutions that has been granted $85 million to develop new treatments for war wounded.

While more than 90 percent of the soldiers injured in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan survive, many have serious injuries that involve severed nerves and are life changing. The Mayo clinic doctors have been studying the use of biodegradable synthetic polymer scaffolds that can deliver cells and nerve growth factors to severed nerves. The regenerated nerves will restore patients’ functions and feelings.

“Our overall goal in this endeavor is to improve the lives and functions of our patients,” Dr. Windebank is quoted as saying. “We’re focused on helping service personnel with terrible injuries, but what will come out of this will have applications for anyone with a serious limb injury from whatever misadventure.”

With FDA and Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board approval, human clinical trials are the next step.

Web-Based Technology to Aid Ambulance Crews

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Technology is hitting the front lines of trauma care. The American Ambulance Association (AAA) is urging people to sign up for the iBracelet—a web-based registry that will allow emergency health workers to quickly “learn a victim’s health history and immediately text-message loved ones that the person is headed to a hospital,” according to an Associated Press story.

At a cost of $5 a year, people can maintain a file online at InvisibleBracelet.org that contains health and emergency contact information. Users keep their PIN on a wallet card with their driver’s license or on a sticker that goes on their insurance card. Such information can be of great help to first responders as they attend to trauma victims who are too injured or ill to communicate.

The program was begun in Oklahoma, and with its success, the AAA is going nationwide with it. We at NTI are optimistic that widespread use of this technology will help to save lives.

USA Today Story Focuses on Trauma Research

Monday, December 21st, 2009

A story in today’s issue of USA Today features the research being conducted at Texas A&M on stopping blood loss and the Pentagon’s $9.9 million grant in support of that research (see our earlier post on the subject).

A member of NTI’s Board of Directors and head of the Army Institute of Surgical Research’s Joint Trauma System, COL Brian Eastridge says in the article that, although the research on “hibernation” sounds a bit like science fiction, it is of vital importance. “People who survive massive blood loss can recover well, more so than soldiers who suffer traumatic brain injuries,” he says.

The Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies will be looking at different approaches being worked on around the country and begin conducting animal studies before testing in humans.

San Antonio Trauma Doctor Featured in Story

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

The San Antonio Express News published a feature story on December 13 about Dr. John Kennedy Bini, a trauma surgeon and Air Force major now stationed in Afghanistan. The Wilford Hall surgeon serves as the only trauma doctor at the Bagram Air Field hospital, and the article follows him through a busy day on the job during which he performs surgery, sees all inpatients and talks about the challenges and rewards of the job.

Dr. Bini spoke at our own Trauma Symposium this year on the use of hemostatic agents to control bleeding—a topic informed by his experience on a previous deployment to Iraq. Surgeons like Dr. Bini, who are able to directly translate their experiences attending injured soldiers to civilian medicine at home, are most responsible for quickly advancing our trauma care system. If there’s such a thing as a silver lining to war, it is this.

Texas A&M Institute Wins Grant to Work on Emergency Treatments for Severe Blood Loss

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Yesterday, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a $9.9 million grant to the Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies (TIPS) to develop frontline treatments for U.S. military personnel injured in combat and suffering from massive blood loss.

We’re excited to see such a substantial funding commitment to one of NTI’s priority research areas: hemorrhage.

The TIPS research focuses on extending “the golden hour,” the period of time during which it is critical to stop blood loss in order to save the life of the injured soldier. By administering a medication that can reduce the body’s need for blood and oxygen, researchers believe that the window of time can be extended enough to allow the severely injured to survive until evacuation to surgical care is possible.

TIPS is also opening a new facility today that vastly increases its capacity to conduct research on this and other important medical advances. Dr. Matthew W. Miller, the principal investigator for the TIPS research, said he expects there will be innovative civilian applications that result from the project as well. The team hopes to quickly move from animal to human trials.

Read the university’s press release on the grant and the research.

Good News for Economy is Good News for Trauma Survivors

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Last week, a news release from the Millennium Research Group (MRG) caught our eye. Despite an economy that continues to struggle and a sluggish forecast for many industries, MRG projects rapid growth over the next five years for the trauma fixation devices market.

MRG’s analysts expect that shifts in device innovation and anatomical focus will allow some smaller companies to expand and move into the market, fueling competition and more growth.

While this is good news for the economy, it’s even better news for trauma victims, and we applaud the companies that are rapidly working to improve treatments with specialized and advanced fixation technologies. MRG mentions low-profile plating systems as an example of a technology quickly becoming popular. Such systems help ease treatment of trauma to extremities “where soft tissue coverage is minimal and thicker systems often cause irritation.”

For more information about emerging trends in trauma treatments, read MRG’s new report, US Markets for Trauma Devices 2010 or visit its website.

New Technology Slowly Makes its way Toward the Battlefield

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Last month, the firm Vicor Technologies announced that its proprietary PD2i® nonlinear algorithm and software had been touted by a researcher at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) as “the most promising diagnostic for in-field trauma triage.” Andriy Batchinsky, MD, presented his research on the device November 14 at the American Heart Association’s Resuscitation Science Symposium.

The device uses one to two minutes of EKG data to evaluate heart rate complexity and is not derailed by “noisy” data—an issue faced in real-world applications on the battlefield as well as in civilian trauma situations. In his evaluation, Dr. Batchinsky found the PD2i® diagnostic to consistently and accurately identify those requiring lifesaving intervention.

Dr. Batchinsky’s work is a wonderful example of the kind of actionable research that NTI supports and funds. At our own Symposium in August and September, Dr. Richard Schwartz, director of the Emergency Medical Support Program at the Medical College of Georgia, reported that the Terrorism Injury Information Dissemination and Exchange (TIDE) project had been looking at this very issue of triage and had worked on developing a new system that adopted the best components of the many existing systems. Also critical, he said, is the issue of identifying better vital signs that can more accurately help first responders assess patient status.

We are hopeful that new technology like the PD2i® and many other devices currently moving through the development pipeline can begin to make a real difference for victims of trauma. Continued funding for research is the key!