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Vol. LXIII, No. 4
February 18, 2011
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ORWH, Partners Share Research on ‘Polytrauma’

  NIA grantee Dr. Elaine Peskind of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington presents the opening address at the 3rd annual Trauma Spectrum Conference.  
  NIA grantee Dr. Elaine Peskind of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington presents the opening address at the 3rd annual Trauma Spectrum Conference.  

Of the 2 million soldiers and Marines deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, 9-18 percent return with symptomatic mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) from repetitive exposure to improvised explosive devices. “There is growing concern that multiple concussive events from any cause may set in motion pathogenic processes that may later emerge as neurodegenerative dementing disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” an NIH researcher reported during a recent conference at Natcher Bldg.

Dr. Elaine Peskind of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington is a current NIA and VA grantee studying Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and blast concussion TBI. She presented the opening address at the 3rd annual Trauma Spectrum Conference sponsored by NIH, DoD and VA. The conference is a forum for leading experts to share the latest approaches in research and treatment focused on polytrauma.

Peskind described an unprecedented health problem facing veterans: the ratio of wounded to killed in battle has changed substantially and more troops are coming home who have survived blast exposure and multiple concussive events.

Peskind said it is not known whether sports concussion is similar to blast concussion. Repetitive sports concussion has been associated with a rare mid-life dementing disorder known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. However, any head injury with loss of consciousness is a risk factor for AD, which occurs in one-third to one-half of people over age 85.

Peskind presented data from 35 veterans with blast-associated mild TBI and 13 Iraq war veterans without blast exposure. Results of studies using four brain-imaging techniques suggest structural and functional changes due to blast that are not explained by co-morbid PTSD. She cautioned that more data and analysis are needed.

A presentation by Dr. Jan Jasiewicz described “smart technology,” an interactive system that uses sensors and other technology to provide memory cues, boost mobility and promote a range of other clinical goals. He said the system is expected to shorten recovery times and assured that the VA is working on a variety of research and technology to benefit veterans.

The Office of Research on Women’s Health co-coordinated the 2-day conference. ORWH director Dr. Vivian Pinn highlighted NIH-funded clinical trials research related to service members and their families and described a new NIH web portal that provides information and resources specific to women serving in the military; visit http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/outreach/whrhealthtopics.html#b014. NIHRecord Icon


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