Handheld Device Helps Detect Traumatic Brain Injuries on Battlefield
A new, handheld device funded by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) may help medical responders assess traumatic brain injuries (TBI) much quicker on the battlefield. The BrainScope device is called Ahead® 100. It is one of the newer technologies that the Combat Casualty Care Research Program has released and the device, along with other technologies, are being evaluated by the Army to give medics and health care providers more tools to better recognize TBIs.
“We spur innovative ways to advance progress for the full spectrum of TBI, from mild to moderate to severe and penetrating brain injuries,” said Air Force Col. Todd Rasmussen, who is the director of the program and a board-certified vascular and general surgeon. “These solutions have the potential to meet warfighters’ needs regardless of their environment and can help improve survival and recovery.”
The Combat Casualty Care Research Program is based out of Fort Detrick, Maryland, and works with the DHA Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. The program also works with various federal agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health. This program helps guide and advise “the investment of core Army appropriations” as well as the Defense Health Program research, development, test and evaluation dollars.
Traumatic brain injuries are very common and a significant injury acquired by military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. TBIs can result from an outside force to the head, which can sometimes be explosions. A nearby blast could cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull and hinder proper brain function. Rasmussen claims the military has made improving the ability to diagnose and treat TBIs one of the top priorities to make sure those with mild injuries are not at risk of experiencing further trauma, which could lead to more damage and worse outcomes.
According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 313,816 service members suffered a TBI from 2000 to 2014. In the military, the most common TBIs are mild and healed within three months, but 15 to 20 percent go through more persistent symptoms, Rasmussen claims.
The BrainScope device is made up of two parts: a headset and a handheld, battery powered device. When the tool is in action after an injury, the patient’s electorencephalogram (EEG) provides an interpretation of the condition of the brain and can advise caretakers if a computed tomography (CT) scan is necessary. In war zones, large equipment that could be used to diagnose TBIs may not be available, so a smaller device could be promising.
In addition to the Ahead® 100, there are other technological advances underway, such as a mobile software application called the Durable Portable NeuroBehavioral Assessment (DANA), as well as an investigational drug (NNZ-2466) for treating TBIs. Rasmussen says, “the drug shows promise to promote healing by reducing injury-induced inflammation, preserving membranes and improving synaptic performance (brain cell-to-cell communication).”
The Combat Casualty Care researchers are looking forward to moving the investigational therapies into full, widespread use as quickly as possible to benefit injured soldiers. Col. Rasmussen stated, “we owe it to our service members to put every effort and resource into assuring that our wounded recover to the fullest extent possible. This is a lifelong commitment.”
The Archuleta Law Firm handles injury, death, and medical malpractice claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. We handle claims in all 50 States and Worldwide. Our focus is helping the families of Military Servicemembers and Veterans in their claims involving Military Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics and Veterans (VA) Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics. We handle claims involving the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.