BETHESDA, MD — Recent projects being overseen or funded at NIH hope to shed light on the biology of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and give physicians and future researchers better tools to understand, diagnose and treat the condition.
According to NIH, more than 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI each year, mostly from common causes. This includes the more than 200,000 servicemembers who have been diagnosed with TBI over the last 12 years — most of those injuries being combat-related.
No two brain injuries look or act exactly alike. The damage to the brain and its location is unique, as are the mix of symptoms that go with it. For example, research has shown that blast-related TBI, such as that suffered in combat, can present very differently than other types of TBI.
With this variability in mind, DoD and NIH are partnering on the creation of a central TBI database. The hope is that by collecting uniform data on as many types of these injuries as possible, the database will be a boon to research into the injury and help accelerate comparative effectiveness research on brain injury treatment and diagnosis.
The Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury (FITBIR) database is being funded at $10 million over the next four years. NIH’s Center for Information Technology has been tapped to build it, having gained useful experience when building the National Database on Autism Research.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command will partner in providing program support for the project and help fill the database with useful information. Researchers will be provided with exactly what kind of information FITBIR is looking for and will be encouraged to participate at the time they submit proposals for new TBI studies.