Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DOD Funds Brain Studies

The Department of Defense awarded BrainScope® Company, a Bethesda Maryland medical neurotechnology company, a $7.5 million contract to use their BrainScope technology to help medical teams effectively treat head injuries in the emergency department.

BrainScope’s Ahead™ M-100 is a handheld non-invasive non-radiation emitting medical device under development to use at the point-of-care to aid in triage or use for patients where TBI is suspected. The device capable of assessing structural brain injuries and impairment from TBI and concussions, and can rapidly assess brain injuries based on patterns identified in brain electrical activity.

The company also received $250,000 in funds through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development made through the Maryland Venture Fund. This came about because earlier this year, the state was awarded $23 million in federal funding to invest in businesses and to disburse funds through existing state finance programs that included the Maryland Venture Fund.

The company will use this funding to develop and conduct clinical trials for Ahead™ M-100. In addition, the company also participated in MEDICA 2011 in Germany with the help of a DBED MD Export grant for $5,000.

In another DOD funding effort, researchers at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, (ICT), New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Emory University School of Medicine were awarded an $11 million, four year grant from the Department of Defense to test different ways to treat PTSD including the use of virtual-reality exposure therapy developed at ICT.

The study will involve 300 military and civilian personnel who have been diagnosed with PTSD that occurred after their service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The researchers will look at personal and genetic factors that may impact an individual’s chances of developing PTSD as well the individual’s future response to therapy.

JoAnn Difede, Director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell reports, “Combat-related PTSD is notoriously difficult to treat. Our study will conduct a large-scale head-to-head investigation of virtual reality as compared to tradition exposure treatment for PTSD. This could answer decisively which intervention is most effective, and for whom.”

Patients using virtual reality will use a headset with goggles and earphones as the therapist controls the digital scenes. Sensory cues will be added such as chair vibrations that simulate an explosion.

Difede began using virtual reality with burn unit patients in the 1990s and in 2001, she did research at the University of Washington which resulted in the creation of the Virtual World Trade Center System that was used to treat 9/11 survivors.

For more information email VRatl.orgBeach@gmail.com or visit www.scire-lb.org/ptsd.html or for information about the study sites email Brittany Mello at brm2016@med.cornell.edu.