Archive for March, 2010

House Members Request Funds for Trauma Research

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Yesterday was the deadline for House members to submit FY 11 funding requests to the Appropriations Committee. The National Trauma Institute would like to thank several members for requesting FY 11 funds on our behalf to support important research related to hemorrhage. Texas Representatives Charles Gonzalez, Ciro Rodriguez and Solomon Ortiz each submitted a request for $4.5 million to generate research to develop life-saving interventions and devices that will reduce death and disability following traumatic injury that results in hemorrhage.

In their requests, the representatives acknowledged that promising technologies have been identified but require additional research and testing before they can be used successfully in the field—whether to mitigate battlefield or civilian injuries.

Identified as the Army’s top medical research priority, hemorrhage is also responsible for 30% to 40% of U.S. civilian deaths related to traumatic injury. Development of an effective treatment can decrease the rate of late complications and mortality and improve outcomes for untold numbers of trauma victims.

Funding requests are considered later in the year as Congress works through the budget process, and our hope is that, with support from three representatives, NTI will be awarded funding at some level.

NTI Board Members Quoted in USA Today Story on New Military Policy

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The military’s Joint Theater Trauma System instituted a new policy to return brain-dead soldiers to their families before removing life support, USA Today reported. An agonizing decision in any circumstance, it is especially difficult in combat situations where military doctors are not required to notify next-of-kin, and soldiers are far removed from their families.

In the article, John Holcomb, a retired Army colonel, trauma surgeon, and NTI board member, remarked that he had faced such distressing cases while in Iraq. Army Col. Brian Eastridge, another NTI board member and director of the Joint Theater Trauma System, said it’s very important that families are included in the decision and can achieve some sense of closure.

Military families welcome the new guidelines.

Hospital-Acquired Infections Controlled with Medicated Cloths

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

An article in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery reports that trauma patients bathed with antiseptic cloths contracted significantly fewer infections during their hospital stay than those treated with cloths not having any antibacterial properties. A major issue for trauma patients, especially, who are susceptible to hard-to-treat bacterial infections due to the extent of their injuries, surgeries and indwelling devices, hospital-aquired infections (HAI) are an NTI research priority area.

The cloths employed in the study were soaked in a Chlorhexidine gluconate solution, and the authors suggest that their daily use should supplement hand hygiene to reduce the acquisition of MRSA and other resistant organisms.

Read a summary of the article.

Dept. of Transportation Reports Drop in Traffic Fatalities

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Good Morning America reported this morning that, according to a DOT study, traffic fatalities are down 8.9% from 2008 and 22% from 2005. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood attributes the drop to effective public service messaging on drunk driving and seatbelt use, as well as a recent decline in driving overall because of the bad economy.

Despite the good news, the roads remain the deadliest place to be–motor vehicle collisions are the number one killer of people aged 3 to 35, claiming more lives than cancer, heart disease, murder and suicide combined. Even with the decline, more than 34,000 people a year, or 90 a day, die in car crashes.

The next frontier for public service messaging is texting while driving, estimated to be a factor in more than 6,000 traffic deaths a year. And of course, the National Trauma Institute knows that improved trauma care resulting from increased funding for trauma research will also result in fewer fatalities.

Eye Trauma is Focus of DOD Grant to USC, But Funding Process Needs an Overhaul

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

The Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) received $800,000 in funding from the Department of Defense to conduct research that will lead to restored sight for combat troops who have had eye injuries. The result of a funding request submitted by California Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the grant will support the Eye Trauma and Visual Restoration (EyeTVR) program at the school.

With traumatic eye injuries skyrocketing due to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the DOD is particularly interested in advances that promise to save sight. Another goal of the EyeTVR program is to save and restore sight to veterans and their family members who suffer from other eye injuries, eye infections or inherited and age-related eye disease. Applications are expected to be available to the civilian population as well. Read the USC press release on the grant.

While this is great news, it underscores the need for a stable and long-term source of funding for trauma research. Like NTI, the EyeTVR program had to appeal to an individual member of Congress in order to secure limited funding for a very important initiative. In fact, NTI’s executive director Sharon Smith just returned from a trip to Washington for the same purpose. She met with staff members in seven different Texas representatives’ offices to state NTI’s case and ask for support in requesting appropriations.

Individual, piecemeal efforts to fund isolated research projects represent a drop in the bucket in terms of the attention needed to make strides in trauma practice. NTI has been lobbying for a steady source of funding even as we work to secure annual funding on a year-to-year basis. We hope other trauma-related research organizations will join us in this quest.

Registration for the Annual Trauma Symposium Now Open

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Today the National Trauma Institute opened registration for its 16th Annual Trauma Symposium, slated for August 30 – September 1, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. The symposium is unique among medical conferences, as it is a blend of military and civilian speakers and multidisciplinary topics appropriate for the entire trauma team.

This year’s opening session is on provider resiliency and post-traumatic stress disorder. The program includes more than 80 research-based lectures covering advances in everything from trauma nursing to craniofacial surgery, plenary sessions on traumatic brain injury and resuscitation, and an advanced airway course.

To receive the early bird discount, register before July 1, 2010 on the NTI Website.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

The Department of Defense reports that military service members suffered more than 20,000 traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in 2009. The signature injury of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, TBI is also a prevalent civilian injury, associated with vehicle crashes, sports injuries and falls. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center will be hosting activities related to this year’s Brain Injury Association of America campaign: “A concussion is a brain injury. Get the facts.”

With the National Football League also concerned about brain trauma on the field, this year’s Brain Injury Awareness Month is receiving much needed attention. For more information about traumatic brain injury, visit the website of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Pentagon Adopts Policy to Identify and Treat Mild TBI More Quickly

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

A USA Today story reports that the Pentagon is about to release a new policy pertaining to identification and treatment of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in soldiers. Admiral Michael Mullen pushed for the policy change because of increasing concerns that even mild traumatic brain injuries can cause lasting damage including short-term memory loss, headaches and impaired problem solving.

According to the policy, any servicemember who has been caught near a roadside blast will be pulled out of combat for 24 hours for observation and treatment. Symptoms of a mild TBI include headaches, ringing in the ears and double-vision. Soldiers who test positive will be removed from duty until their condition improves.

USA Today reports that “the new policy is a major expansion to battlefield medicine because it treats troops based on what happened to them, not just on visible wounds.” Read the full story.