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TRIP initiative bridges the gap between TBI research, clinical care

Image of a statue of a broken circle. The broken circle serves as a symbol of the service members with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress (Photo by: Dr. Thomas Piazza).

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Healthcare providers across the Department of Defense (DOD) must stay up-to-date with the latest modalities and research within their discipline.

To provide the best possible care, centered on traumatic brain injury (TBI) research and brain health, the Defense Intrepid Network for Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Health had developed a Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) initiative. TRIP was created to support the translation of effective research outcomes into clinical standards of care for the improvement of brain health and management of patients with TBI.

"The Defense Intrepid Network provides a unique interdisciplinary clinical platform to foster partnerships with DOD, interagency, academic, industry, international, and civil society experts to gain greater access to and rapidly implement effective care and treatment modalities for TBI," explained Navy Capt. Carlos Williams, director for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and first member of the Defense Intrepid Network.

Coordinating these efforts is TRIP Coordinator Theresa Woo. Woo, a neuroscientist, first joined the NICoE in 2015 in support of the neuroimaging division before transitioning into her current role in research operations. As the TRIP Coordinator, Woo will utilize her experience as a clinical researcher and operations specialist to foster connections between the subject matter experts in the Network and the global TBI community.

One of the ways the TRIP Initiative Team hopes to do this is through TRIP Scientific Community Groups, which will bring together clinicians, researchers, and other subject matter experts to help identify cutting-edge research findings that have the greatest potential of being translated into clinical standards of care. Another priority is to formally operationalize the existing Defense Intrepid Network of TBI clinics to more efficiently support multi-site protocols, maximizing the impact and generalizability of research findings.

"Regardless of clinical specialty or scientific expertise, we all share a common goal across the TBI community: to improve the lives of TBI patients and their families. TRIP is, in a sense, a Network-wide implementation of this goal, bringing together providers and researchers at the start to help streamline the process and get results into clinic as quickly as possible," explained Woo.

Building on more than a decade of experience in interdisciplinary care delivery and collaborative partnerships, the Defense Intrepid Network now looks to the TRIP initiative to "break down the silos and barriers in the TBI community [to] ensure that all stakeholders are at the table as we look for the next great treatment to bring to clinical standards of care," stated Dr. Thomas DeGraba, co-chair of the TRIP and chief innovations officer at the NICoE.

Dr. Treven Pickett, NICoE's department chief of research and co-chair of the TRIP initiative, emphasized that the TRIP is not a vehicle to mandate changes in clinical care. Rather, it is an organizational framework that facilitates an "inclusive conversation" about promising research findings and their potential applicability to clinical care among a variety of stakeholders.

From day one, leaders, researchers, and clinicians from across the global TBI community will be a part of the conversation. Pickett added, "This initiative aspires to narrow the gap between promising research developments, and actual clinical care, by implementing a framework for these conversations to happen."

For more information on the TRIP initiative, follow the NICoE on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. To learn more about getting involved in TRIP efforts, reach out to the TRIP Coordinating Committee at: dha.bethesda.j-11.mbx.trip@mail.mil.

The Defense Intrepid Network for TBI and Brain Health includes the NICoE and 10 Intrepid Spirit Centers (ISCs) across the Military Health System. The Intrepid Network takes an interdisciplinary approach to TBI care and associated health conditions and collaborates closely with partners across the federal government, academia, industries and civil society

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