Department of Defense takes steps to improve brain injury care

When a person in Knoxville, or elsewhere in the country, suffers a head injury, the first emergency personnel to reach the scene of the injury will take immediate steps to stop bleeding and prevent further trauma to the brain while the person is taken to the hospital. However, this process is not without its problems. There is a need for better medical devices to slow or stop bleeding, swelling or hemorrhaging. Moreover, there is a need for better communication between those transporting the person to the hospital and physicians at the hospital. This is not just true for civilians but also for service members.

For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has entered into a $90 million contract covering the next 10 years with the University of Pittsburgh and two additional centers of research to help improve this process for service members, and through that, civilians.

The initial focus will be on military trauma care, with a $10.8 million undertaking to establish a network of trauma systems nationwide. The network will collect data about the treatment process for moderate to serious trauma cases. It is anticipated that after a couple of years of accumulating a significant amount of data, further projects requested by the DOD will be able to be undertaken.

It is hoped that this undertaking will help not only service members who suffer traumatic brain injuries in the line of duty, but also civilians who suffer significant head injuries. However, service members who have already suffered a traumatic brain injury in the call of duty can attest to how the injury has seriously affected their life post-service.

Complications such as nerve damage, cognitive problems and behavioral changes can make adjusting to civilian life difficult, and may even make it so that the injured person can no longer function at work, or even care for himself or herself. When this happens, service members may want to see if they can seek veterans’ benefits or Social Security disability benefits to help cope with medical and living expenses.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Pitt to lead trauma network through $90 million federal defense contract,” Oct. 20, 2016