The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a mission to pursue and exploit fundamental science and innovation for National Defense. As the DoD's primary innovation engine, DARPA seeks to maintain the technological superiority of the US military. DARPA performs research and development on many technologies for military purposes from basic technology and materials, to sensors, communications, electronics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and weapons platforms.
The DARPA Warrior Web program, inspired by human physiology and performance, will develop the technologies required to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic events typically experienced in the warfighter's environment. This will be accomplished by a system (or web) of structures, in the form of a skin-suit, that are compliant and transparent until injury-causing conditions activate appropriate changes in the web structure. The “Warrior Web” will similarly have the capacity to augment positive work done by the muscles and to reduce the physical burden by leveraging the web-structure to impart appropriate supportive forces where necessary on the human body. Warrior Web is not intended to interfere with current warfighter "soldier systems," but rather to augment them to improve warfighter effectiveness.
The NMRL has received a grant from DARPA to work on the development and direction of research related to the Warrior Web and its application for injury prevention in the military. The primary investigator for this project is faculty member Timothy C. Sell, Ph.D, PT.
Newly Formed Research Relationship Between University of Pittsburgh and Norwegian National Defense Institute
On Tuesday September 13th and Wednesday September 14th, 2011 a group of researchers from the Norwegian National Defense Institute traveled to Pittsburgh to visit the NMRL and discuss the topic of injury prevention in a military environment. They described how the Norwegian Navy Special Operations Operators are experiencing what seem to be avoidable musculoskeletal injuries. Because of these injuries the Defense Institute has decided to launch a research effort aiming to lower the incidence and severity of musculoskeletal injuries sustained by their Operators. The NMRL has used a military specific injury prevention method based on the public health prevention model to help reduce musculoskeletal injuries in various US military populations. The Norwegian group looks to replicate this model in their new injury prevention initiatives.
During their two day stay at the University of Pittsburgh Dr. Lephart and the Faculty of the NMRL held meetings to discuss the aims and goals of their research efforts. They also discussed the NMRL’s approach to these issues with injuries sustained in the military. Demonstrations of the various testing protocols were shown to the Norwegian group to give them an idea of how the laboratory variables are obtained and their significance to elevated risk of injury. These demonstrations also helped feed further discussion on how this model could be applied to their military group of interest, the Norwegian Navy Special Operations Operators.
The NMRL looks forward to continuing their relationship with the Norwegian National Defense Institute Research Group and collaborating on future topics.
11th Annual “Army Telemedicine Partnership Series: Meeting Medical Challenges in a Changing World”.
On Saturday, April 30, 2011, USAMRMC and TATRC hosted the 11th Annual “Army Telemedicine Partnership Series: Meeting Medical Challenges in a Changing World”. The focus and theme for this year's meeting was: “Tip of the Spear Medicine: Emerging Technologies for Special Operations Forces.” The purpose of the TATRC meeting is to convene subject matter experts from government, academia and the private sector to explore emerging telemedicine, medical informatics and other medical technologies with direct application to Special Operations medicine in unconventional & asynchronous warfare; stability, security, transition & reconstruction (SSTR) operations; and humanitarian missions. Military representatives from the Special Operations community presented overviews of special operations type missions in both urban and austere environments and their continuing efforts to adopt and adapt emerging medical technologies to support those missions. Over 24 distinguished speakers and panelists from the military, federal government, academia and private industry presented emerging medical technologies and associated research sponsored by USAMRMC, TATRC, SOCOM and other military organizations, followed by interactive group discussions among participants and panelists on the applicability of these technologies to ongoing and future Special Operations missions or similar civilian SSTR & humanitarian operations.
Dr. Scott Lephart, Chair, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences & Director, Neuromuscular Research Laboratory University of Pittsburgh gave the keynote lecture at this conference. Dr. Lephart heads up several Department of Defense sponsored research projects in Special Operations Injury Prevention and Performance Optimization. (conference website)
Surgeon General of the Army Visited the NMRL
LTG Eric Schoomaker, Surgeon General of the Army, visited the University of Pittsburgh as the invited presenter for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Rehabilitation, Science, and Technology Brubaker Lecture. LTG Schoomaker toured the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and was briefed on the current research activities with 101 st Airborne Division (Air Assault) including implementation of the Eagle Tactical Athlete Program, and similar projects with Naval Special Warfare Group 2 and Naval Special Warfare Group 4/Special Boat Team 22.
Facets Magazine features our research with the Department of Defense
The Fall issue of Facets magazine features a special topic, "To Protect and Serve: A Collaboration with a Mission (page 12)," on our research with the Department of Defense.
In this newest issue, our research with the Department of Defense is also covered in another two articles:
"Preparing for Combat: Training the Tactical Athletes" (page 10)
Feeding Body, Mind and Spirit (page 16)
Download this issue of Facets (3.8MB PDF)
Eagle Tactical Athlete Training Program in National TV Network and Local Newspapers
The Eagle Tactical Athlete Training Program is featured in CNN.com, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Click the following links to read the articles.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1MB PDF)
Pittsburgh Tribune Review (627KB PDF)
Dr. Lephart Briefed the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army
On March 10, 2009 Dr. Scott Lephart, the primary investigator of our U.S. Army 101 st Airborne (Air Assault) Injury Prevention and Performance Optimization Research Initiative, briefed the Assistant Surgeon General (Brigadier General Timothy K. Adams) and the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army (General Peter W. Chiarelli) regarding the research activities at Ft. Campbell, KY as well as our research examining the effects of soldier load on the biomechanics and physiological responses of the individual soldier. Dr. Lephart outlined the results of the overall project, the results of the recently completed clinical trial, and next steps to implement the training program throughout the 101 st . The following day, on March 11, 2009, General Chiarelli testified at a hearing before the Committee on Appropriations - Subcommittee on Defense. The Hearing, titled "Soldier Equipment, Ergonomics and Injuries", was requested in order to review and investigate the effects of soldier's equipment on injuries. During questioning, General Chiarelli outlined the University of Pittsburgh 's research at Ft. Campbell , KY : "That's why I'm excited about what the University of Pittsburgh is doing for us. They're in I believe it's the second year of a long-term study to collect just that kind data, both before the rotation and once the soldier returns, and providing the soldier the tools he needs to work on his physical strength when he is deployed." He also stated that ".. physical conditioning and, what we're finding through the University of Pittsburgh study that's being conducted, nutrition are key elements in helping soldiers when they have to carry these loads in avoiding the kind of muscular-skeletal issues that we are seeing today."