Coming Soon: Virtual Reality Medical Technology for Troops

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) exterior rendering.

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence exterior rendering. (Image: DCOE)

Cutting-edge virtual reality medical technology, the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) system, will soon be available for patients at the new National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), which will hold its ribbon cutting ceremony next Thursday, June 24.

“CAREN allows the use of virtual reality to be incorporated into the care of wounded warriors and may assist in the return to duty and/or the reintegration process,” said Sarah E. Kruger, a biomedical engineer and the CAREN operator for NICoE.

CAREN allows patients to work through a variety of skills after experiencing traumatic injuries, with the focus on promoting resilience and recovery. Troops returning from war are able to work through post-traumatic stress symptoms through a very carefully monitored virtual environment.

“The CAREN system contains an instrumented treadmill embedded into a six degree-of-freedom motion platform that synchronizes in real-time with a virtual environment projected onto a large, curved screen,” according to Kruger.

The potential benefits to troops who experience brain injuries are significant, as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are very serious issues facing increasing numbers of our troops. According to the VA, more than 44% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with psychological conditions, and service members who have served back-to-back deployments often show signs of PTSD and TBI.

The CAREN system was developed by Motek Medical and Polycom Telemedicine Solutions, video and voice communication solutions companies. They donated the estimated $500,000 machine to NICoE, making it one of five machines available in the entire world.

NICoE was built and equipped through the philanthropic contributions of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to be an advanced facility dedicated to research, diagnosis and treatment planning for military personnel and veterans experiencing TBI and psychological health conditions. It is located on the campus of the Naval Support Activity in Bethesda, Md., soon to be the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

This post was shared with us by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCOE). The DCoE Blog features information on psychological health and traumatic brain injury issues as well as personal stories and reflections from people within the military community on these topics.

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    Good article and very valuable information. Keep it up!

  • Jhdawson4

    Its taken a long time to come to fruition. Med tech was in all major hospitals (trauma certified) years ago…