Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Database to Help TBI Patients

NIH and the Department of Defense are building a central database containing data on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). The “Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research” (FITBIR) database, to be funded at $10 million over four years is designed to accelerate comparative effectiveness research on brain injury treatment and diagnosis. The system will serve as a central repository for new data, link to current databases, and allow for valid comparisons of results across studies.

About 1.7 million people in the U.S. sustain TBIs each year from common causes such as auto accidents and falls. In addition, service members serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other parts of the world face the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury. According to DOD, in the past 12 years, more than 200,000 service members deployed worldwide have been diagnosed with TBI. The total cost for treating TBIs in the U.S. including medical care, lost wages, and other expenses, exceeds $60 billion.

Treatments remain limited despite improved surgeries and the use of rehabilitation techniques for people with brain injuries. Also, cases of TBI are highly variable, since there are different causes for the injury, injuries can be in different locations within the brain, and there can be different kinds of damage to brain tissues.

This makes it difficult for clinicians to treat patients, predict long-term outcomes and investigate new therapies. Also, studies often report different kinds of data on patients, obtained through various tests and measures, further impeding comparison of data across studies. The FITBIR databases will address these challenges by collecting uniform and high quality data on TBI, including brain imaging scans and neurological test results.

The database is expected to aid in developing:

• A system to classify different types of TBI
• More targeted studies to determine which treatments are effective
• Diagnostic criteria for concussions and milder injuries
• Predictive markets to identify those at risk of developing conditions linked to TBI
• A clearer understanding of the effects of age, sex, and other medical conditions on injuries and recovery
• Evidence-based guidelines for patient care from the time of injury through rehabilitation

The Division of Computational Bioscience within NIH CIT will build the database because of their experience in developing the “National Database on Autism Research”. Reusing the database structure is expected to save 35-50 percent of the project costs and significantly reduce the time to achieve meaningful results. Plans are for NIH CIT to not only build the database but also provide ongoing system administration and hosting services once the database is complete in about two years.

The Defense Health Program through the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) is the lead DOD component funding the FITBIR database. Both USAMRMC and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) will provide programmatic support and foster collaborative research to populate the database. Researchers will be given detailed information about the FITBIR database and will be encouraged to participate at the time they submit proposals for new studies.

For more information, email Donna Berry, NIH CIT at donna.berry@nih.gov, call (301) 451-1039 or email Daniel Stimson, NINDS at stimsond@ninds.nih.gov, call (301) 496-5751.