Story and photo by John Brooks
The first funded research project to be completed by a member of the Acute Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium was showcased during the annual ANEC gathering at Fort Leonard Wood and Waynesville April 4.
Dr. Casey Burton, director of medical research for Phelps Health, and adjunct professor at University of Missouri Science and Technology, shared his research and findings during an afternoon of collaboration between AENC members and supporters at Phelps Health in Waynesville.
Burton’s research is directed toward ways to assess Traumatic Brain Injury non-evasively.
A TBI, or disruption of normal brain function, can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“In a nutshell, our lab develops new molecular biomarkers in both blood and urine that can be used to detect and characterize various diseases such as Traumatic Brain Injury,” Burton said.
Fort Leonard Wood provides training environments that are suitable for AENC research.
“Fort Leonard Wood is an ideal place for researchers to understand TBI and to assess the effects and impact of TBI to Soldiers,” said John Ingersoll, GLWACH’s chief of Clinical Operations. “About 85 percent of all TBIs in the Army occur in training.”
“There has been a great interest in developing biomarkers that can be probed directly in the field,” Burton said. “Assessments and advanced neuro imaging can be or tend to be either subjective or impractical for field use.”
But accurately determining the severity of exposure to any particular concussive effect a Soldier may encounter in the field can be a challenge.
“TBI can present across a spectrum from mild behavioral changes to complete loss of consciousness. So, we need accurate tools to study the underlying biology,” Burton said.
Several ongoing research projects were shared and discussed throughout the day, which began with a tour of several Fort Leonard Wood training areas.
The tour, hosted by General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital Commander, Col. Kimberlie Biever, took the researchers to the rappel tower, confidence course, Sapper Leader compound, grenade range and demo range. Soldiers at each location described the training and answered questions.
(Editor’s note: Brooks is the GLWACH marketing specialist.)