NMRC Scientists Explain How Injured Warfighters Are Effected By Aeromedical Evacuation


Story Number: NNS190823-05Release Date: 8/23/2019 10:56:00 AM
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From Naval Medical Research Center Public Affairs

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) scientists presented their research, “Simulated aeromedical evacuation exacerbated histopathology and immunomodulation,” during the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS) in Kissimmee, Florida August 22.

The hypothesis for their research on aeromedical evacuation examines how low encompassing (ambient) air pressure can negatively impact a wounded warfighter suffering from a serious organ injury.

According to Dr. Anke Scultetus, head of NMRC’s En-Route Care & Critical Care Research Program, Neuro-Trauma Department, this type of evacuation is often used as a rapid and effective way to transport severely injured warfighters.

”There is limited information available on the effects of aeromedical evacuation,” she said. “Wounded service members are of particular concern, since changes in cabin pressure, temperature, and constant vibration could aggravate or worsen their injury.”

Scultetus and her team used a test blast model, and a 12 hour simulated aeromedical evacuation two days after injury, which resulted in increased evidence of tissue damage to multiple organs, particularly the lungs, brain and intestines.

“The inflammatory response was modified in subjects exposed to blast followed by simulated aeromedical evacuation, suggesting the inflammatory response can be altered due to changes in the outside environment, including ambient pressure,” said Scultetus. “Our research suggests aeromedical evacuation has the potential to worsen long-term outcomes, and we have to consider current practices and re-evaluate our strategies to transport injured warfighters.”

“Similar to ambient air pressure, traumatic brain injury (TBI) increases inflammatory responses,” said Scultetus. “I recommend further studies are warranted to investigate the physiologic effects, and possibly reconsider our current practice with aeromedical evacuation.”

About Naval Medical Research Center

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.

 

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