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TBI researchers increased access to data expands ability to care

Image of woman speaking at a podium Dr. B. Christie Vu, Health Science Program Manager, CDMRP speaks at the CENC PI Meeting at VCU in Richmond, VA, August 2017. (Photo by the LIMBIC-CENC team/Virginia Commonwealth University)

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Service Members and Veterans should benefit from traumatic brain injury (TBI) data sharing, in a joint-effort funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) Informatics System now houses data from the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC) examining the long term effects related to mild TBI in individuals who served in the Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn conflicts.

Image of man lecturing
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Fauth, shares his Traumatic Brain Injury story with an audience, highlighting the importance of educating service members to better understand the causes, symptoms and treatment of TBI, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, earlier this year.(Photo by Marcy Sanchez)

The de-identified clinical assessment data from the consortium's flagship Longitudinal Cohort Study (LCS) includes more than 1,500 participants, 93 clinical research forms, and 250,000 data points. Study participants were current and former U.S. service members with varying histories of TBI from no exposure to more than 15 incidents, from seven VA medical centers around the country and one military medical treatment facility.

"This CENC is an example of how stakeholders from the government, research, and Service member and Veteran communities come together in collaboration to tackle the challenge of long term effects of military-related brain injuries," said Dr. B. Christie Vu, health science program manager, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).

The study's impact will expand with its inclusion in FITBIR. Greater access to the dataset will encourage collaborations, secondary analysis, and could accelerate development of medical solutions for warfighters with TBI. Additional data from the CENC will be added in coming months.

"The efforts of the CENC team are sustained through other research efforts, large and small, but the amount of data collected is greater than any one team's capacity to address in a short amount of time," said Vu. "By placing the data in a shared state, others in the research community will be able to look at the CENC data alone and in combination with other available datasets to increase the power of TBI research funded to date."

Researchers can find information about accessing FITBIR here.

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Judith Bulkley, an electrical and environmental systems specialist deployed from the 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., exits an A-10C Thunderbolt II after performing an external power operations check on the aircraft at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Because service members in particular are often exposed to high noise levels, hearing protection is crucial, especially with a TBI. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephen Schester)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Judith Bulkley, an electrical and environmental systems specialist deployed from the 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., exits an A-10C Thunderbolt II after performing an external power operations check on the aircraft at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Because service members in particular are often exposed to high noise levels, hearing protection is crucial, especially with a TBI. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephen Schester)

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Public Health Service Cmdr. Robin Toblin speaks at TBI Summit

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Public Health Service Cmdr. Robin Toblin with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research was one of the more than 1,700 health care providers and policy makers from the Military Health System, the Department of Veterans Affairs, academia and commercial research companies who met in person and virtually during the recent Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Summit held at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. (DCoE photo by Terry Welch)

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