A signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been traumatic brain injury (TBI), as well as an outcome of all wars–post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Over 270,000 veterans since 2000 have been diagnosed with TBI–along with 1.7 million civilians per year. The US Department of Defense (DOD) has been funding research in several areas to help veterans–and eventually civilians–with these traumas.
- DARPA’s RAM: Restoring Active Memory program is seeking to compensate for brain injury by developing a neuroprosthetic to aid memory function. The focus is on restoring declarative memory–knowledge which can be consciously recalled like events, times and places–which is challenging for the TBI sufferer. Neurological implants may sound spooky, but are currently in limited use with Parkinson’s and dystonia patients. Research is being led by Geoffrey Ling, MD who is a retired colonel and a four-tour veteran, and involves teams from University of California-Los Angeles and University of Pennsylvania. Medical manufacturers like NeuroPace and Medtronic were also mentioned in the article. DARPA’s Memory Restoration Program (Armed With Science)
- Another investigative area is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Here the lead is civilian–a team at Wright State Research Institute– with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Texas VA and Women’s Hospital (Partners HealthCare) in Boston. Basically it’s an old technology which is being revived and refined via brain mapping to aid learning–and to help those with PTSD and other mental conditions to find ‘normal’ once again. Brilliant for a Day: The (REAL) Science of Brain Enhancing Stimulation (Armed With Science)