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  • NHRC's Wounded Warrior Recovery Project Seeks to Better Understand the Impact of Injury on Quality of Life

    SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Wounded Warrior Recovery Project (WWRP), a longitudinal study led by the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC), added two new assessments about pain and social support to surveys aimed at understanding injury-related quality of life issues, Dec. 8.

    The WWRP was launched in 2012 to examine the long-term outcomes of service-related injuries and how they affect our wounded warfighters' quality of life. 

    "The more we understand the aftermath of their injuries, the impact on everyday life, the better we can support the recovery and rehabilitation processes that our service members go through and ultimately improve their quality of life," said Mike Galarneau, director of operational readiness at NHRC.

    The mission of the WWRP is to conduct research that specifically targets long-term quality of life issues and outcomes. The data collected and analyzed by NHRC can be used by health care providers to assess and develop new treatments. Additionally, leaders can use findings from the WWRP to inform health policy and resource allocation that meets the long-term health and wellness needs of wounded warriors. 

    "The military health system has provided wonderful, cutting-edge care to help our injured service members recover from their wounds," said Galarneau. "But what happens after these service members are discharged from care and go home? How are they adjusting to their new normal? The WWRP is answering those questions by looking at the long-term impact of living with a service-related injury. People often confuse our study with a charitable organization that has a similar name, but our work is completely different. We use science, validated assessment tools, to develop a clear and comprehensive picture of the quality of life issues facing our wounded warriors over the long haul and we share those findings with military leaders. These are the decision makers who can change policies and procedures and positively impact the lives of our wounded warriors."

    The WWRP currently has more than 3,700 participants enrolled in the study and averages up to 300-400 new enrollees each month. Researchers at NHRC will follow this cohort for 15 years after enrollment, with surveys administered every six months to track participants' physical and mental health, pain, social support, and quality of life.

    Findings from the study are provided quarterly to the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and the Extremity Trauma and Amputee Center of Excellence, the joint Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs entity that provides research and development for the mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of traumatic extremity injuries and amputations. 

    "Currently, the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project assesses self-reported quality of life, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder in the survey given to participants when they first enroll in the study," said Dan Sack, project manager with the WWRP. "The two new assessments will enhance the quality of the follow-up surveys, which are administered every six months, by including questions targeted at learning more about the impact of pain and social support on injury outcomes among our injured service members."

    According to Sack, adding the two new survey instruments, the Chronic Pain Grade Scale and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, will allow for further refinement of the study's outcome analyses. 

    "Pain, both chronic and acute levels of discomfort, can have a large impact on daily quality of life by its very nature," said Sack. "And social support, or the lack of it, has been associated with psychosocial outcomes including anxiety and depression that can also negatively affect quality of life. The more we can learn about all the different facets of injury aftermath and how they ultimately impact the lives of our warfighters, the better we can target services, resources, and therapies that will make their lives better." 

    As the DoD's premier deployment health research center, NHRC's cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nation's armed forces. In proximity to more than 95,000 active-duty service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRC sets the standard in joint ventures, innovation, and translational research.

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