Archive for January, 2010

Airlift Funding Limb Injury Research

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The Airlift Research Foundation, a non-profit based in Pittsburgh, PA, has just awarded grants totaling $400,000 to two researchers working on technology that will help injured soldiers.

Dr. Christopher Born of Rhode Island Hospital and Dr. Yunzhi Peter Yang of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston will get $200,000 each. Born is studying how to eliminate infections in injured extremities and Yang is researching synthetic bone grafts.

The Airlift Research Foundation funds orthopedic research and increases public awareness about traumatic war injuries.

Trauma Victims Not Subject to the “Weekend Effect”

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

New research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, presented at the EAST meeting this weekend, shows that trauma victims who sustain their injuries at night or on the weekend are not susceptible to the same medical care disparities as those who suffer time-sensitive illnesses such as heart attacks and strokes. The reason is because the regionalized trauma system, which mandates that trauma victims be taken to 24-hour, fully staffed facilities (Level 1 trauma centers), insulates these people from the problems associated with lower and less specialized staffing at regular hospitals during off hours.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Brendan G. Carr, says, “We found that no matter when you are injured, you get the same type of care when you are brought to a trauma center.”

Carr believes that the study has implications beyond trauma care. “The…emergency care system as a whole can be redesigned to take better care of the sickest, most vulnerable patients,” he says.

Read the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine press release on the study.

NTI Named in San Antonio Express News Opinion Piece

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

In an editorial posted on the San Antonio Express News website, Joe Krier defends Kay Bailey Hutchison’s use of the much ballyhooed Congressional earmark to bring federal dollars back to Texas. He points to many examples of positive fallout for San Antonio as a result of Hutchison’s putting Texas first, including $8 million to the National Trauma Institute. “Are earmarks that provide for clinical trauma care and help cure an insidious disease good for San Antonio? I believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes’,” Klier opines.

We think he’s right, and it’s a shame that earmarks have such a negative connotation. In many instances, an earmark is the only way to secure funding for worthy projects if they are not a part of entitlement programs. In the case of NTI, trauma is unfortunately not a category funded through the Department of Health and Human Services. We have been lobbying to have it added to the HHS agenda, but in the meantime, we have had to work through Senator Hutchison and Representative Lamar Smith to secure financial attention.

We and those our research serves are grateful to Hutchison and Smith for recognizing the importance of research to improved clinical outcomes and for working to secure federal funds for this purpose–no matter what the process is called!

TBI or Concussion?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

A blog post on the Los Angeles Times website yesterday summarizes a study published in the journal Pediatrics that shows how a doctor characterizes a mild traumatic brain injury affects the perception of that injury. While a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury are essentially the same thing, the study found that when doctors diagnosed a child’s injury as a concussion, that child was more quickly discharged and more quickly resumed normal activities.

Parents simply don’t take a diagnosis of “concussion” as seriously as “TBI,” the study found. The lead researcher said that returning to normal activity too soon can put children at risk of a second injury, poor school performance and other complications. Lingering effects of a concussion (TBI) include hearing loss, memory loss, dizziness, headaches and depression. A rising awareness of these complications is due to the experience military doctors are gaining as more and more servicepeople sustain brain injuries in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Once more, we’re seeing that very thin silver lining around the cloud that is war. With a better understanding of how the brain heals after such an injury, better treatment protocols are sure to follow.

New Research Suggests Immobilization is Not Necessary in Many Trauma Cases

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

A retrospective study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Trauma looks at how immobilization of trauma victims at the scene relates to their rates of survival. The researchers determined that the risk of dying was two times higher for those who had been immobilized.

Dr. Elliot R. Haut, the lead researcher and an assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, believes that EMS protocols should be re-examined and revised based on this new information. Immobilization should not be automatically applied to every trauma patient, since the procedure can take up precious time and delay transport to a hospital, Haut argues.

Read the Baltimore Sun article about the study and its potential implications for trauma protocols in the state of Maryland.

Hospital Acquired Infections Responsive to Easy Interventions

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

An ABC News report broadcast yesterday pointed to new research that may help mitigate the ongoing battle with bacterial infections in U.S. hospitals. One of the National Trauma Institute’s research priorities, hospital-acquired infections (HAI) add billions to the country’s annual health care costs and claim as many as 100,000 lives each year. Up to 1.7 million hospital patients a year pick up infections while receiving care.

The broadcast highlighted a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed surprisingly low-tech interventions drastically cut down the risk of infections. By screening surgical patients for a particular bacterial infection and treating them prior to surgery, post-operative infections were reduced by 60 percent in the study. In addition, a program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that focused on isolating patients with infections, providing incentives for handwashing and limiting antibiotic use has also resulted in lower rates of infection.

Dr. Lee Harrison of the University of Pittsbugh Medical Center said that while the program has been successful, combating infections is still a constant struggle because of emerging strains. The ever-changing nature of the problem is one of the reasons why the National Trauma Institute identified HAI as one of its research priority areas.

Story on Rural Trauma Highlights Parallels in Military and Civilian Practices

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

A story in the Texas Tribune on January 5th discusses a huge gap in the nation’s trauma system: access in rural areas. People who enjoy isolation and wide open spaces pay the price in higher death rates due to an inability to reach a trauma center within the critical time period following a traumatic injury.

The article quotes Don McBeath, with the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, who said small, local hospitals need to be preserved so that they can serve as triage centers to stabilize patients and get them to higher levels of care as soon as possible. This solution sounds incredibly familiar: it’s exactly what happens in war zones, where far-forward surgical units triage, provide emergency care, stabilize patients, and move them to better equipped and staffed centers in safer areas.

This may be another area where military experience can inform civilian practice. We encourage members of TORCH and other rural hospital groups around the country to attend this year’s Annual Trauma Symposium, where the cross-pollination of military and civilian medical advances takes place.

NTI Hires New Development Director

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

We are pleased to welcome Stephanie Krueger to the National Trauma Institute as our director of development. She has more than 12 years of experience providing the vision, leadership, strategic direction and management for the fundraising efforts of several San Antonio organizations. Most recently, she served as a development officer for the McNay Art Museum, implementing annual giving and membership programs in support of that wonderful San Antonio resource. She has also directed membership and programs for the Downtown Alliance/Centro San Antonio and the marketing efforts of Martin Capital Advisors.

With the addition of Ms. Kreuger to our staff, we’ll begin work on a strategic national campaign to raise funds from individuals and private organizations that will supplement federal research dollars. We’re excited to embark on this next phase in the organization’s growth as we work toward our vision to be the premiere grant-making institution for translational trauma research.