from Army Times
With the Afghanistan War winding down and the chance to study troops in combat running out, military scientists are conducting record amounts of research on everything from blast effects on the brain to stanching blood loss.
At least 47 medical studies are slated for this year, up from 40 last year and 20 in 2010, according to Army Lt. Col. Kevin Chung, who is coordinating the efforts. "This is the largest number of total projects we've had going," he says.
The studies look at the process of battlefield care, test new forms of treatment and diagnosis, or attempt to enhance understanding of brain injury.
Proponents of battlefield research cite a storied history of breakthroughs that included field ambulances in the Civil War and the discovery of the causes of yellow fever following the Spanish-American War.
"It's a real opportunity," says Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas, a doctor who returned from Afghanistan in February. "Combat is the greatest catalyst to medical innovation."
This year, hundreds of soldiers and Marines off the front lines are carefully being asked for consent to have their brains scanned, blood taken or reaction time monitored.
"They have to volunteer to participate," says Navy Lt. Cmdr. Octavian Adam, a neurologist leading efforts at a military hospital in Kandahar that involve imaging the brains of troops exposed to blasts. "Most of them ... want to help."