Urgent Purpose: University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Receives DOD Funds for Study of Orthopedic Injuries

Article excerpt

Every day, OU Medical Center's Trauma I Center treats Oklahomans who've suffered serious injuries. Soon, those civilian patients can allow their injuries to help soldiers in the military.

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is among 24 major trauma centers around the nation, along with the four primary military treatment centers, that will share $38.6 million for the study of major orthopedic injuries. The Department of Defense money was made available so surgeons around the country can gather a higher volume of research in a shorter amount of time. The effort is being driven by military men and women returning from overseas conflicts with injuries unlike those received by service members in past wars.

"There is a newfound sense of urgency," said David Teague, leader of the orthopedic group at OU Medicine. "The military, for years, has appropriately funded lots of research in breast cancer, prostate cancer and other things like that. The thinking was that those conditions affect their service men and women. But what is clear now is that the biggest reason ... service men and women are unfit for further duty is injury and arthritis. That's the biggest problem they face. The military now recognizes that the aspect that makes them lose years of their service members has not been particularly well-funded in the past. Plus, these latest conflicts over the past two decades have further enhanced the need of addressing many of these issues."

Over the next five years, OU's trauma center will participate in studies, chronicling the treatment of the qualifying patients and sending it to the Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium. Teague said the study topics will vary, but civilian injuries often have a direct application to the injuries that military members receive.

"For example, bone defect reconstruction - lots of wounded warriors and lots of motorcycle riders, if they break their tibia or they're exposed to a bomb, will lose bone," he said. "Even if we can save their leg, they may have a big gap in their bone. One of the studies will be how we can best reconstruct those defects."

Another study will focus on compartment syndrome, a condition when too much swelling occurs in an injured limb. The swelling can hurt the blood supply to the muscle and nerves, Teague said. Other studies will focus on pain control and rehabilitation therapies for patients with orthopedic injuries.

OU Medical Center will receive about $100,000 for the hiring of new research and data entry personnel, Teague said, then it will be compensated per enrollee in the study. …