The U.S. military is turning to RTI International and other researchers in an attempt to better understand “combat-related mild traumatic brain injury.”

RTI is part of a consortium awarded a $62.2 million contract by the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The leader of the project is Virginia Commonwealth University.

As part of the project, RTI will manage operations and data accumulated by the research teams.

Its researchers also are tasked to conduct biostatistical design and data analysis.

“This award represents a major step forward in the research on and treatment of long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injuries,” said Rick Williams, the principal investigator at RTI and associate consortium director. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of concussions in veterans of recent wars, as well as in athletes, the long-term effects of which we need to better understand for improved prevention and treatment.

“New discoveries will help the Department of Veterans Affairs and the military health systems provide the best possible care and the right benefits for service members and veterans who have incurred these injuries,” he added.

The primary focus will be on veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, veterans from other conflicts also will be included.

“The multidisciplinary effort aims to identify those most at risk for physical and mental health consequences after experiencing multiple mild traumatic brain injuries,” RTI noted. “The consortium will also examine better treatment options and the long-term prognosis for patients and their caregivers.”

The consortium includes seven veterans’ hospitals, 10 univerisities and six active-duty military treatment facilities.

Researchers also plan to work with other universities, sports leagues, as well as pharmaceutical and medical imaging firms.

[RTI ARCHIVE: Check out more than a decade of RTI stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]