New research partnership between hospital, Fort Leonard Wood, and universities looks to detect traumatic brain injuries earlier

ROLLA, Mo. -- "Soldiering is a contact sport. We roll vehicles over, we blow things up, and we hit each other and teach people how to defend themselves," said Kent Thomas, Executive Director of Leonard Wood Institute. "Out of that, there is an opportunity for concussive events."

That's why Fort Leonard Wood teamed up with the Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Missouri University of Science and Technology, University of Missouri in Columbia, Kansas City, and Washington University in St. Louis to research ways to detect these brain injuries in real time.

"If we can identify it early, then we can treat it early," Thomas added.

So the group of 80 researchers making up the group, called the Acute Effects of Neurotrama Consortium, are looking at a multitude of different tests they can use in real time. One being a urine test.

"We know there are biomarkers that show up in the blood. We don't exactly know what time they show up, if it's within moments or if it's within hours," said Barry White, Executive Director of Acute Effects of Neurotrama Consortium. "The same could be true in the urine sample which would be a very easy field test."

But, its still being researched.

"That's still a very active field of research as we better understand the timeline following a concussive event," said Casey Burton, Director of Medical Research at Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

The research is just in the beginning stages, and funding still needs to come from different groups for this to continue, but doctors say this could change how we look at and treat these injuries even outside of the military.

"I see this as just the first stepping stone to a worldwide application where it's in everyone's office, or it's easy to assimilate and it becomes from big equipment to small equipment," said Don James, Senior Vice President of Medical Research and Governmental Affairs at the Phelps County Regional Medical Center. "The potential's enormous."

Doctors say they are still open to adding more universities from across the state to this research group, becaue they say the more researchers they have, the more they can learn.