In one room, doctors and academics talk about the latest developments in treating brain injuries. In another, administrators and clinicians confer about how to best use technology to improve patients’ experiences. Over in the corner, a medic and a researcher discuss how to apply lessons from the battlefield to civilian emergency rooms. These scenes and more will be duplicated as thousands of professionals descend on Florida for a unique gathering exchanging the latest information on military medicine. The annual Military Health System Research Symposium takes place in Kissimmee Aug. 27-30, 2017. It’s expected to attract military medical providers, academic researchers, clinical administrators, and more.
“This is the only large, broad-based research conference focusing on the unique medical needs of the military,” said Dr. Kelley Brix, a physician and division chief with the Defense Health Agency’s Research and Development directorate. “It crosses many different research areas and medical conditions.”
Some of those unique areas of military medicine to be explored include combat casualty care and traumatic brain injuries. In recent years, the Military Health System reduced fatalities from combat injuries to the lowest levels in the history of warfare through processes developed in the Joint Trauma System, or JTS. Started in 2003, JTS standardized trauma care standards from lessons learned on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury advanced the knowledge and practices of the portion of the medical community focused on brain injury. Both groups are expected to be well-represented at the symposium.
“Trauma care is an issue in the general U.S. population,” said Brix. “But we see unique problems related to improvised explosive device explosions, gunshot wounds from military-grade weapons, and infections from those traumas not seen in North America.”
The information shared at the symposium serves more than just the military community. “Many of the breakthroughs made in the military in improving the care of traumatic injuries have been widely adopted in civilian health care,” said Brix.
This year’s meeting should attract more than 2,500 people. It’s a big increase from when the annual symposium started several years ago, with about 1,400 attending in 2014, outgrowing its former home in Ft. Lauderdale. Brix said the increase in attendance underscores how valuable the information exchanged at the gathering is to the research community.
“Military health scientists clearly think this is really an important conference to go to,” said Brix. “It just continues to grow each year.”
By Military Health System Communications Office