Biomarkers, Health Prediction & Gulf War Illness
Now, 30 years after the 1990-1991 Gulf War (GW), 250,000 veterans of that era still suffer from Gulf War Illness (GWI), a debilitating multisymptom condition which presents with chronic fatigue, widespread pain and most commonly, cognitive difficulties.
At present, most diagnostic processes in GWI rely heavily on self-report of symptoms, which indicates a need to identify tools that can provide an objective diagnosis of GWI.
The ease of access to blood and the minimally invasive nature of blood collection, biological markers (biomarkers) in blood are desirable for routine clinical use. Furthermore, clinical studies show that in the brains of veterans with GWI, there is reduced utilization of certain energy molecules and increases in immune cells that cause brain inflammation.
Research evidence supports energy dysregulation and inflammation as the likely underlying biological features of GWI. As such, it is important that blood biomarker discovery efforts are designed to take these key aspects of GWI into consideration when developing and validating blood biomarkers of GWI.
BIOFEEDBACK, AMPUTEE REHABILITATION
Individuals with lower-limb amputations often adapt their walking patterns to alleviate pain or discomfort in their amputated limb, increase their feeling of stability, or overcome functional deficincies in their prosthetic device. These adaptations can cause asymmetric limb loading, which makes them up to three times more likely to experience secondary conditions and joint degneration, such as osteoarthritis.
Biofeedback training may help decrease the likelihood of these secondary conditions by enabling patients to receive real-time information on the quality of their movements, as well as simple instructions on how to adjust any incorrect motions to improve their walking.
Using SageMotion Haptic Biofeedback system, which consists of small wearable sensors strapped to the user’s lower-back and thigh whose sensors are capable of both measuring motion and providing vibration stimuli to the user.
When the user extends their hips enough, the system vibrates to produce a “buzz” that informs the user they have achieved their target.
EPIDEMIOLOGY, NEUROIMAGING & COVID
- Collaborating nationally and internationally to research the impact of COVID-19 on brain to discover causal pathways and mechanism of action for what is being referred to as “long-COVID.” The debilitating symptoms that patients report infection from sars-cov-2 that persist beyond the anticipated recovery period of 12 weeks.
- The research will explore how the COVID-19 virus acts on the body and interacts with the immune system to elucidate how other viral disorders such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis may develop.
- By collecting neuroimaging data in cohorts across several protocols spanning symptoms of pain, depression, and PTSD. The changes between first onset or worsening of psychiatric disorders and dementia as a function of COVID-19 will be used to develop intervention strategies.
BRAIN STIMULATION, PAIN & GULF WAR ILLNESS
- The clinical data will be used to try and uncover the causal pathways of Gulf War Illness (GWI). An umbrella terms for a cluster of symptoms that many Veterans from the 1991 Gulf War exhibit.
- The incidence of Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) is unclear, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has proposed that 1 in 3 Veterans from the Gulf War era suffer from what it called a chronic multi-system illness (CMI).
- In addition, Veterans from the Gulf War also have a high incidence of psychiatric symptoms that accompany the pre-existing physiological impairments they already experience.
- Our lab has been granted two Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Investigational Device Exemption (IDEs) as part of a therapeutic protocol.
NEUROIMAGING, BRAIN INJURY & GENDER
- Combining longitudinal clinical research on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and poly-trauma to develop robust databases that facilitate research, understanding of brain disorders, accurate diagnosis, and tailor effective treatments. Multiple national collaborative efforts that are resulting changes to clinical practice and policy.
- Offering world-class innovative treatments TBI, and recipient of three funded awards for TBI using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to improve cognition, depression and pain.
- The TBI research will also explore gender differences in understanding the impact on head injuries, presenting symptoms, and guide best practice treatment guidelines. The research will be guided by state of the art neuroimaging to assess the efficacy of novel treatments that include non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as TMS.
BRAIN STIMULATION, BRAIN INJURY & MEMORY
- Significant progress has been made in understanding the pathophysiology and neuropsychological impact of brain injury. However, existing treatments for persistent impairment have limited efficacy.
- In addition the existing treatments have limited research on the underlying mechanism of action or in their ability to predict treatment response.
- The research will explore evidence-based pathways to develop advanced diagnostic tools to be included in future guideline for clinical evaluation and treatment of mild and moderate brain injury.
- Paving the way for the development of novel treatments currently lagging behind the understanding of structural brain changes following injury.
VIRTUAL REALITY, BRAIN INJURY & HEADACHE
- Industry collaborations have resulted in a platform to explore at-home meditation using virtual reality (VR) to comparing standard-of-care physical therapy with augmented reality (AR) to enhance biofeedback driven healing mechanisms for treatment of pain and stress. National and international efforts to use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to objectively characterize diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in populations with complex health problems.
- By collecting neuroimaging data across several studies spanning symptoms of pain, depression, and PTSD. Resulting in nationwide translational research to impact clinical practice and policy.
- Based on the reported risks of TBI in the geriatric population existing protocols have been adapted with smart technology to monitor and provide feedback to the patient and the provider.
ULTRASOUND, BRAIN INJURY & HEADACHES
- Investigating the efficacy of Low Intensity Focused Ultrasound Pulses (LIFUP) with meditation based principles to treat Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) related headaches.
- Focused on seniors with the aim of deciphering task-related connectivity patterns that can change in relation to skill-learning, expertise and/or carrying the Apolipoprotein (APOE) ε4 genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD).
- The research will identify neuronal fiber tracts and aberrant connectivity patterns in patients with TBI years after injury.
- Employing state-of-the-art methodology to track and identify underlying chronic health issues characteristic of brain injury and disparities due to psychiatric symptoms, sleep, and fatigue.
Why Participate in Research
Understand what it means to contribute to research.
Getting medical discoveries from the research lab to patients depends on clinical trials and the people who volunteer to participate in them.
Volunteering in a trial may help society at large by bringing new treatments one step closer to patients, and may help a loved one if you have a genetic disease or condition.
It may also give you access to a cutting-edge treatment and medical team that carefully monitors your health. But clinical trials can’t happen without volunteers, and 37% don’t enroll enough patients to move forward.
Clinical trials need volunteers like you so watch this short film to find out more about why they are important, how to get involved, and what it means to participate. Learn more at Clinical Trials or watch the video by Alliance for Aging Research.
RESEARCH = HOPE
Participate in research and bring hope to others.