Kansas researcher seeks to reduce amputations from battlefield bone breaks

The Wichita EagleSeptember 1, 2011 

A $1.4 million grant from the Department of Defense for the research and development of a device to stabilize fractures on the battlefield has a lot of commercial potential as well, officials from the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University and the Center of Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopaedic Research said Wednesday.

NIAR and CIBOR announced Wednesday that they had received the grant, which is aimed at developing a composite device that will stabilize serious fractures while reducing the number of amputations that follow such injuries sustained in combat.

“This is extremely good news for CIBOR in terms of this is the first involvement in large-scale federal funding,” said Paul Wooley, CIBOR’s chief scientific officer.

The medical composites research and development group was originally founded in 2006 by a group of scientists and executives at WSU and Via Christi. Its goal through CIBOR is to create a medical composites industry.

NIAR and CIBOR researchers’ goal for the Defense Department grant is to develop a device made of composites that’s easy to carry, will work in hot and cold and wet and dry environments, and will harden immediately to eliminate any unintentional movement of a fractured limb.

“We are basically going to invent an external fixation device that will do all these things,” said John Tomblin, NIAR executive director.

At the same time, researchers will look at ways for the device to deliver an antibacterial agent externally that will minimize or eliminate the possibility of the injury becoming infected.

“This eventually is to become a front-line drug delivery device,” Wooley said.

That’s an important part of the device, Wooley and Tomblin said, because many amputations caused by battlefield wounds occur not because of the original injury, but from moving a limb with fractured bones that are sharp. Those bones tear blood vessels, nerves and tissue when they are moved.

If they are successful — the grant calls for the researchers to develop and create a successful prototype for the Army in two years — the device could also end up in civilian use, such as on ambulances and in the backpacks of hikers and climbers, Wooley and Tomblin said.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansas.com.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service