Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wounded Warrior Research

Daniel J. Cleary Computer Scientist at GE Global Research located In Niskayuna. New York, explained how some of the technologies developed for jet engines are now helping returning soldiers deal with TBI and PTSD. He reported on research in this field at the “ATA 2011 16th Annual International Meeting and Exposition held May 1-3 in Tampa.

GE supported by a TATRC three year research study is evaluating returning soldiers for mental issues. The study is taking place at Ft. Gordon, Georgia to enable researchers from the Dwight D. Eisenhower AMC and the Center for Telehealth at the Medical College of Georgia to find new ways to determine and measure if wounded soldiers are actually affected with TBI or PTSD.

To research information for the study, the soldiers sleep as usual in their barracks but a cabinet is placed above their beds containing unobtrusive motion sensor technology and analytical software. Researchers fitted the cabinet with Doppler radar and environmental sensors to gather data when the soldiers are sleeping while a wrist watch measures activity during the day. This technology enables the soldiers to have their vital signs monitored plus have the radar output measure their heart and respiratory rates. The study is expected to be completed in 2011 and completely wrapped up in 2012.

Another TATRC project discussed at ATA 2011 is helping the wounded communicate with their case managers by heavily using a cell phone-based bi-directional messaging system. The “mCare system” enables the care team to enter a secure HIPAA compliant message to the soldier’s existing cell phone. The soldier is able to respond to the message, the care team views the response, and the next step is to report the information online.

The Army developed “mCare” by modifying commercial off-the-shelf technologies and created the HIPAA-compliant messaging system to work on wounded warriors and their existing mobile devices (cell phones) however, the system is distinct from text messaging or email.

The Army reports that “mCare” has been launched at 5 Community Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTUs) across the country. Col. Ronald Poropatich, MD, Deputy Director, USAMRMC TATRC at Fort Detrick MD, pointed out that as of April 2011, 600 wounded warriors between 18 and 61 that including both enlisted personnel and officers volunteered to use “mCare”. Geographically, the user’s in 28 states and D.C. received case management services from over 600 miles that included sending over 78,500 secure messages.

In 2010, the “My Appointments” feature was created to enable wounded service members and case managers to submit appointment data that automatically generates reminders on the mobile interface. So far, over 3,000 unique appointments have been transmitted of which 1,200 were initiated by service members through their mobile interface.

In April 2011, the “mCare” Clinical Outcomes Study was initiated where a randomized clinical outcomes study will eventually enroll up to 400 participants both TBI and non-TBI patients. The study’s goals are to provide awareness, patient-provider contact rates, information on neurobehavioral symptom severity, soldier’s satisfaction with case management and system usability. The study is expected to conclude in 2012.