Two military medical professionals evaluate an X-ray. Two military medical professionals evaluate an X-ray.

Infectious Diseases

From Reed's yellow fever breakthrough to vaccines for typhoid and influenza, the Military has no peer regarding the prevention of infectious diseases. In 2016, the Army began a Phase 1 trial at Walter Reed Institute of Research to test a Zika vaccine. That same year, a Navy research scientist presented findings on his work to humanize the immune system in mice, which can pave the way for research on a vaccine to fight dengue fever.

Human trials begin for Army-developed Zika vaccine NMRC Scientist Researches Humanized Lab Model to Understand and Protect Against Dengue Virus

Trauma Care

While the Military has made advances in trauma care since the Revolutionary War, military physicians are always searching for better, faster ways to save lives in the field. Damage Control Resuscitation (DCR) began as an area of research at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research to improve survival rate after severe injury. A 2016 survey of trauma medical directors revealed that the protocol is also being widely used in civilian trauma centers.

Major Military Advancement in Trauma Care Now Adopted by Civilian Medicine

Assistive Technology

For service members who have lost limbs, the Military is working on increasingly realistic prosthetic technology. Scientists at Case Western Reserve, with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, published a 2016 study on their work to restore the sense of touch for amputees. At the University of Pittsburgh, engineers are working to improve mobility for the disabled in the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Finally, the U.S. Army has developed IDEO (Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis), which improves movement for those with lower-limb injuries.

Restoring the sense of touch in amputees Human Engineering Research Laboratories Orthotic Brace Takes Soldiers From Limping To Leaping

Telemedicine

Advances in technology mean doctors and patients can connect in new ways, and the Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) explores how new innovations can improve healthcare in the Military. Its researchers and engineers are working on telecommunication solutions, including a mobile app that connects patients to behavioral healthcare providers. They are also using robotics and other technology to offer remote care to casualties in combat, in addition to building life-like training simulations to help prepare medics in the field.

Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

Treating Infection

As antibiotic-resistant infections become a growing concern for healthcare providers, researchers from the Navy Medical Research Center announced in 2016 that they have successfully treated a drug-resistant infection with bacteriophage-based therapy. Commonly called phage treatments, these naturally occurring viruses can kill bacteria, making them an effective tool in treating wound infections. Since traumatic combat injuries are often susceptible to complex infections, the hope is that this new treatment can offer an alternative to antibiotics.

Bacteriophage-based Therapy Overcame an A. baumannii Infection

Portable Sterilization

Sterile instruments are at the core of any safe medical procedure, and historically, medical field teams have relied on heavy equipment that consumes a lot of energy and resources. Researchers from the Naval Medical Research Unit are testing a new portable sterilizer that is much more light-weight and efficient for use in the field. It takes advantage of gaseous ozone in the air, which can kill several species of bacteria.

NAMRU-SA Researchers Work to Prevent Infections with Field-Ready Sterilizer

Tissue Regeneration

Because severe injuries can lead to wounds that never heal properly, tissue regeneration has come to the forefront of several research centers. The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine is a multi-branch effort to develop advanced treatments for wound care. The Military and the U.S. Veterans Administration also fund research at the academic level, including teams at Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh.

Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine