Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2005
IU to research rehabilitation needs of war amputees
Defense Department awards $1 million to IUPUI research center
NOTE: This story is one of several to be published this week in celebration of IU Life Sciences Week (Jan. 22-28).
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Center for Rehabilitation Sciences & Engineering Research, located on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, is receiving $1 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to study the rehabilitation needs of severely wounded military personnel who are returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The center will leverage the federal appropriation, championed by U.S. Congresswoman Julia Carson, to develop a research agenda for establishing models of best rehabilitation practices for traumatic amputees in Indiana and nationally. The goal of the research will be to optimize rehabilitation, independence and quality of life for veterans who suffer the loss of a limb in combat. The Ohio State University is a collaborating partner in this research.
"The Indiana Center for Rehabilitation Sciences & Engineering Research is ideally suited to take a leadership role because of its powerful partnerships that cut across many areas of science, engineering, technology, medical and rehabilitative care," said Mark Sothmann, dean of the Indiana University School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, where the center administratively resides. Center partners include seven IUPUI schools, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center and Indiana corporate partners.
American combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in an increasing number of traumatic amputees among U.S. military personnel. Current protective gear and improvements in field medicine mean more soldiers survive injuries that would have proved fatal in prior wars but now result in severe wounds, often requiring amputation.
These individuals face a daunting future of rehabilitation and reintegration into daily American life.
The center will provide national leadership on a research agenda to address these issues by bringing together national experts representing medical management, prosthetic design, engineering needs, health services, rehabilitation and long-term health maintenance. Their collective goal will be to define a research agenda to optimize amputee function, independence and quality of life.
"The center will use coordinated and systematic efforts to identify and assess gaps in current quality and outcomes of rehabilitation in order to develop optimal clinical practice that enhances the quality and outcomes of rehabilitation for military and veteran amputees," Sothmann said. "The research establishing rehabilitation best practices with amputees will be applicable to optimizing rehabilitation for return to work and quality of life following joint replacement, which is a central life sciences industry in Indiana."
An Indiana life-sciences product will likely have an important role in this effort. OASIS® Wound Matrix, manufactured by Cook Biotech, a West Lafayette, Ind., subsidiary of Cook Group and a corporate partner in the center, is a revolutionary material used to manage hard-to-heal wounds.
OASIS provides a scaffold for human cells to use as they replace and repair damaged tissue, resulting in the natural growth of new human tissue. This technology provides a "jump start" for repair of chronic wounds. A large percentage of traumatic amputees have additional body wounds that limit their ability to undergo rehabilitation, and OASIS may enhance the healing process to allow for more effective rehabilitation intervention.