Innovative treatments offer hope for burn victims

Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, react to an explosion while participating in an urban combat exercise at a Fort Bliss, Texas, training facility May 11-12, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Wilbanks)

Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, react to an explosion while participating in an urban combat exercise at a Fort Bliss, Texas, training facility May 11-12, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Wilbanks)

By Crystal Maynard, USAMRMC Public Affairs

Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan brought a surge in burn and blast wound injuries from improvised explosive devices. Many who sustain such injuries endure years of rehabilitation and countless surgeries. Finding innovative strategies to heal these complex wounds more quickly, with fewer complications and less long-term impact from scarring, contractures and disability is a high priority for military medicine.

In 2008, the Department of Defense established the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, led by the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Rutgers University. AFIRM was designed as a partnership between academia, industry and the government to deliver regenerative medicine therapies with the goal of restoring form and function to the most critically injured wounded warriors.

“Regenerative medicine is a rapidly growing area of science that aims to unlock the body’s own ability to rebuild, restore or replace damaged tissue and organs,” said Kristi Pottol, director of the Tissue Injury and Regenerative Medicine Program Management Office. “Much of regenerative medicine research in the civilian sector is focused on finding ways to reduce the burdens of chronic illness—diabetes, heart disease and others. The DOD wants to use these technologies to treat complex traumatic injuries.”

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