KISSIMMEE, Florida – Researchers from the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) shared findings on the effects of hypobaria during aeromedical evacuation on systemic and neurologic physiology in a laboratory model of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and hemorrhagic shock (HS) during the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS), August 27 – 30.
“The rapid aeromedical evacuation of combat casualties to definitive care is current standard practice in the military, but little is known about the effects of long range aeromedical evacuation in hypobaric environments on trauma patients,” said Dr. Anke Scultetus, Senior Scientist, NMRC.
Scultetus, along with Dr. Richard McCarron, Department Head, Neurotrauma Department, NMRC and other military collaborators conducted their research on the effects of long-range aeromedical evacuation in hypobaric environments on trauma patients – specifically the effects of hypobaria on TBI and HS.
“Injured patients or combat casualties may be more vulnerable than healthy passengers to the physiological challenges of altitude,” said McCarron.
“While there has been no loss of life during transport of patients during the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is increasing evidence that long-range flight might have adverse effects on injuries, which has the potential to compromise recovery and quality of life,” said Scultetus.
The research findings suggested hypobaric conditions have the potential to destabilize polytrauma patients during aeromedical evacuation. Further studies are indicated to simulate other enroute care scenarios and possibly re-evaluate casualty evacuation guidelines.
According to Scultetus, more research is needed to evaluate if it is beneficial to wait a few days or even longer before evacuating casualties from combat zones to the United States for further care and treatment.
MHSRS is the Department of Defense's (DoD) premier scientific meeting; a unique collaborative opportunity for military medical care providers, DoD scientists, academia and industry to exchange information on research advancements and health care developments in the areas of combat casualty care, military operational medicine, clinical and rehabilitative medicine and military infectious disease research program.
NMRC’s eight laboratories are engaged in a broad spectrum of activity from basic science in the laboratory to field studies at sites in austere and remote areas of the world to operational environments. In support of the Navy, Marine Corps, and joint U.S. warfighters, researchers study infectious diseases; biological warfare detection and defense; combat casualty care; environmental health concerns; aerospace and undersea medicine; medical modeling, simulation and operational mission support; and epidemiology and behavioral sciences.
NMRC and the laboratories deliver high-value, high-impact research products to support and protect today's deployed warfighters. At the same time researchers are focused on the readiness and well-being of future forces.