We have a 400 billion dollar problem. Itís called trauma.
Organization: National Trauma Institute | NTI
Need: $100 million
Impact: The world
Trauma can penetrate an entire society – it can be all encompassing – it has the potential to paralyze the world. It can destroy the health, lives and livlihoods of millions of people who suffer from injuries to the body and mind from war, fire, natural (Katrina) and man-made (9/11) disaster, assault, accidents, and disability. And yet the National Institute of Health (NIH) has no institute devoted to trauma.
Trauma occurs every day in every place to every age. It is the leading cause of death for those between 1 and 44, responsible for 160,000 deaths annually. Globally, injury causes 5 million deaths a year. By the year 2020, injury will equal or surpass communicable diseases as the number one world wide cause of disability. Because trauma is a disease of young people it is the leading cause of life-years lost, exceeding those of cancer and heart disease.
Less than one year old is the National Trauma Institute (NTI) based in San Antonio, a most logical place since the city is already a center for trauma that includes San Antonio's triad of level 1 trauma centers that includes University of Texas/San Antonio Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Medical Center. Its vision is to “stop unecessary suffering from trauma through prevention, education, and research and ultimately decrease rates of death and disability in trauma patients”.
Involved in the creation of the Institute are Col. John Holcomb, M.D., Commanding US Army Institute of Surgical Research, Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., President UTHSCSA, important community leaders Joci Straus, Gene Ames, and John White, Jr.
Shell shock… at war or at home. Long periods of stress or even a brief attack on our self can give us long-delayed after-effects that consume our mind and destroy our health with nightmares, paralysis, stammering of speech, anxieties, phobias, low self-esteem.
A 24 year old combat marine returns from Iraq, badly burned over 60% of his body…and without a limb. Long term hospital care is mandatory…but then what. How does he learn to live as this new person he can’t even recognize? How can he return from war and fit into a family – much less a society that can’t even look? How can he survive this traumatic event? Especially when he relives every frightening moment all night long.
An 8 year old little girl wriggled out of her seatbelt just in time for a car to smash head on into her family’s station wagon. Losing both of her parents, she broke her back and suffered acute brain injury in the horrific accident. Confined to an ICU for a year while she underwent a series of 6 operations… her life care costs for her traumatic brain injury alone will be approximately $3.5 million. With no relatives, how will she survive?
A 30 year old man badly beaten and mentally abused by his father for 28 lost years… years full of confusion and pain… constant flashbacks to beatings and belts and fear. With his rage and low self esteem, how does he fit in and contribute to society?
Sharon Smith, NTI's Executive Director and Monica DeWitte, Director of Operations explained that some of the most urgent challenges include injury prevention and education, triage, hemorrhage control, resuscitation, orthopedics, burn care, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, critical care, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, rehabilitation and recovery, and outcomes research, with categories devoted to specific age groups within each subject area.
Who will benefit from trauma research funding? NTI writes,” Injury from motor vehicle accidents (59%), falls (13%), assault (12%), burns (3%), and other accidents (12%) occurs every day and in every state of our nation. It does not discriminate between ages or social groups and the rates are not declining. The threat is magnified with the consideration of unexpected natural and man-made disasters. The inevitable terrorist activities in the U.S. will result in injuries not unlike those affecting our soldiers on the battlefields of Middle East. In 2003, nearly 114 million visits were made to hospital emergency departments, more than 1 for every 3 people in the United States. About one-quarter of these visits were due to unintentional injuries. In addition to these hospital emergency department visits more than 20,000 soldiers have been injured in the current war. Many people are affected by trauma and many will benefit from trauma research funding.”
NTI will be the premier grant making institution focusing on providing awards for translational studies for trauma research, designed to make a clinical impact in 1 to 3 years. Through federal and state funding as well as private and industry contributions the Institute will provide “a consortium of civilian and Department of Defense centers to translate new battlefield innovations born in Iraq to civilians at home. Such a consortium is also particularly qualified to conduct trauma research that is comprehensive, community-based and planned for all populations, incorporating the unique needs of children, the elderly.”
Focusing on prevention to pre-hospital care, through hospitalization to rehabilitation, mirroring the higly successful trauma systems approach to care. According to Sharon Smith, “When the NTI vision is fully implemented, the State of Texas will be the hub of advanced trauma care technology research and development, involved in multidisciplinary, multi-center collaborative research efforts, involving not only Texas, but many centers from around the country.”
For every $3.51 invested in the research of HIV and $1.65 on Cancer, about 10 cents is spent on Trauma. The group has raised about $20.3 million dollars already. But for full implementation $100 million is needed in order to begin national scale research that will allow a comprehensive improvement in the effort to find new ways to treat and cure patients suffering from trauma.
This week NTI is launching their new website at www.nationaltraumainstitute.org. NTI - Improved outcomes through injury prevention, innovative research, education and clinical care. Attend the 13th Annual San Antonio Trauma Symposium on August 20-22, 2007. Also, make plans to attend the 2008 Trauma Symposium in San Antonio, Texas on August 25-27, 2008.
National Trauma Institute mailing address: 14443 Iron Horse Way | Helotes TX 78023. Phone: 210-567-3619 | Fax: 210-567-0003 | Email Patti Ruffin, Academic Coordinator for more information.