Who is doing this research? This program involves experienced brain injury scientists and doctors from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), military, and university hospitals and clinics in 16 states across the United States who will work together to better understand what happens to Service members and Veterans who get an injury to their brain. These brain injuries will include those resulting from combat (blasts, bullets, falls) and noncombat (car accidents, sports injuries, falls) situations. The brain injury scientists and doctors who are part of this network have been working with the VA, military, and universities for many years studying the problems that happen after a brain injury, and now they will work together to help answer questions and solve problems.
What types of patients will be studied? The network members will study groups of Veterans who have been injured in prior wars (Vietnam, Korea), in recent wars (Iraq, Afghanistan), and in the United States (car accidents, sports, falls). They will try to figure out who is more likely to have problems after these injuries, how the injured can be better treated and cared for, and what the injured (and their families) can expect over their lifetime. This information will help Service members and Veterans who have had a brain injury, and their families, better understand what has happened to them, what they can do to feel better, and what they can expect as they get older. It will also help the people who provide care for Service members and Veterans better understand the problems that can occur and better ways to provide care. It will also help the VA and the military health systems provide the best possible care and the right benefits for Service members and Veterans who have these injuries.
What types of studies will be done and what are the risks? The studies involve seeing how different tests, such as memory and emotional questions, balance platforms, eye tracking, MRIs (magnetic resonance images), and seizure brain waves, measure problems after brain injury and how different types of treatment can make symptoms better. Some of the testing is done in person and some is done over the phone or Internet. None of the work that is planned in this program is likely to have specific risks for those involved in the studies.
Other studies use small animal models to provide insight into human problems.
How long will the research take? The whole program of research will take 5 years, but some information will be available in the first 12 months. Because the problems after a brain injury can take months, years, or even decades to fully develop and are complicated, some of the projects will need to continue for more than 5 years, but some of the answers will be ready in only a few years.
How will this help our understanding of brain injury? This is the first program that brings together more than 71 of the most experienced brain injury scientists and doctors from the VA, military, and universities to work on the same set of problems. All of the researchers will be working with Service members and Veterans directly, so that the answers that are found will be most helpful to them directly. The network is set up to allow for a better understanding of why some people get bad symptoms after a brain injury and others do not, what we can do for those people who continue to have these problems, and what can be done to prevent some of the long-term problems, including dementia, that some Service members and Veterans develop later in their lives.
The Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium is jointly funded by the Department of Defense (U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity Award W81XWH-13-2-0095) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (Award Numbers I01 CX001135, I01 CX001246, I01 RX001774, I01 RX 001135, I01 RX 002076, I01 RX 001880, I01 RX 002172, I01 RX 002173, I01 RX 002171, I01 RX 002174, I01 RX 002170).