Sunday, June 20, 2010

Coming Soon: Virtual Reality Medical Technology for Troops

June 20, 2010 - 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.

Peruvian Navy in Kings Bay

From Commander, Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- As part of the Navy's Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI) training program, Peruvian submarine BAP Angamos (SS-31) is conducting a port visit at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., June 12 -18.

USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) (Gold) hosts Angamos, welcoming the crew to the base was Cmdr. Bill McKinny, commanding officer USS Wyoming (Gold), Capt. Tracy Howard, commodore Submarine Squadron 16 and Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, commander Submarine Group 10. During Angamos' port visit Wyoming arranges training, social events and procures any special supplies they need for their mission.

"Submariners of all nations share a brotherhood that few people would understand, and I am very proud to share this with the crew of BAP Angamos," Bruner said.

The Peruvian crew conducted training at the Trident Training Facility. Their first stop was the firefighting training system. Universally fire is one of the most dreaded disasters on board a ship. The training system uses controlled fires to allow Sailors to practice different firefighting scenarios. The Peruvians were dressed out in coveralls, flash hoods, goggles, and gloves with CO2 fire extinguishers in anticipation of battling a class "Charlie" electrical fire. They also received a demonstration of all of the different class fires the trainer can simulate.

The Angamos crew then moved on to the damage control wet trainer. The wet trainer allows Sailors to practice techniques to control and stop flooding, as well as repair damaged pipes. Training starts in the classroom were basic safety is reviewed and patching techniques are practiced. Once comfortable with the tools and different types of repairs the crew moves to the wet trainer. In the wet trainer pressurized water sprays from a number of ruptured pipes, while the Angamos crew works to control the flooding and make repairs.

After their success in the firefighting and wet trainers the crew moved on to the submarine piloting navigation trainer (SPAN). SPAN is used to train enlisted Sailors and officers in the planning and execution of navigation plan. The simulator can create different harbor environments and weather conditions, allowing the crew to practice navigating their submarine under the most dangerous conditions without the risk of damaging a billion dollar asset or risking the lives of the crew.

While the Peruvians enjoyed seeing how the American Sailors lived and trained they also took the opportunity to show off their submarine. Commissioned in 1980, Angamos is a German built type 209 submarine. It contains four diesel engines used to charge four 120 cell batteries which run the AEG electric motor. It is the quiet electric motor that allows Angamos to glide silently though the water virtually undetected.

The submariners enjoyed a cook out and friendly soccer game June 16, to build camaraderie. The Kings Bay Sailors pulled off a surprising two to one victory over the Peruvian team in their version of a World Cup match.

"It is important for us to be here. We visit many bases, but a submarine base is special. To be with submariners and share ideas is wonderful, and we feel very welcome in the submarine brotherhood," said Captain de Fragata Luis Del Carpio, commanding officer BAP Angamos (SS- 31).

Initiated in 2001 the DESI program is a training partnership of submarines from South American navies with the U.S. fleet. The participation of South America's silent and lethal diesel-electric submarines in fleet training and certification provides the opportunity to practice and improve American Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) skills. All participants benefit from the regular engagement, cooperation, and security in the region, but the primary benefit of DESI is the great relationship building opportunity it offers. Port visits give the visiting crew a chance to see how American Sailors live, work and train.