TATRC awards grant for training simulator to treat soldiers with head trauma

Millersville 05 June 2007In order to mitigate serious soldier injuries in Iraq, Millersville University's Dr. Gary Zoppetti, computer science, and his students are collaborating to develop computer-based technologies to combat losses overseas on the battlefield. Dr. Zoppetti and Verefi Technologies of Elizabethtown received a $692.000 small business technology transfer grant entitled "An Intracranial Hematoma/Burr Holes Simulation System" through the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and United States Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC).

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The team of researchers is developing software for a simulator and surgical tools that employ virtual reality and haptic technologies. The simulator will be used to train non-neurosurgical medical personnel so that they may treat soldiers who have sustained head trauma, such as an intracranial hematoma. Increasing the supply of medical personnel who can stabilize and evacuate injured soldiers for further treatment is a primary goal of the project.

Dr. Zoppetti stated: "On modern battlefields, such as Iraq, many head traumas result from bombings, improvised explosives, and fragment weapons. These injuries are survivable if the supply of appropriately trained medical personnel is sufficient."

Millersville's role in the project includes developing a virtual workbench as well as its physical assembly, computing load factors and creating tool models and programmable interfaces for hand tracking of the simulated tools as the trainee works with them.

"In many battlefield settings, the availability of neurosurgeons is limited", stated Dr. Carol Lake, chief executive officer of Verefi Technology. "However, rapid treatment of intracranial hematomas can save lives and limit permanent neurological sequelae. Training non-neurosurgeons to perform emergency burr holes and limited craniotomies using a simulator could stabilize patients for evacuation and additional treatment by speciality trained personnel."

The research and development of the software is set for completion by Spring 2008.


Leslie Versweyveld

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