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IU School of Medicine faculty, IU Health Physicians work to improve trauma care


By: Richard Rea, IU Health

Intensive research efforts are underway by the IU School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and IU Health Physicians to better tailor treatment to a patient’s unique needs when treating trauma injuries.

“We’re trying to get information as soon as possible on a patient’s injury course,” says Todd McKinley, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and professor of orthopaedics, anatomy and cell biology. “We’re tracking how badly they’re hurt, how their body and its systems are responding, the next best step to take and the best window of time to take it.”

Dr. McKinley, the principal investigator, says one of the key components to this research is the use of precision medicine.

“Precision medicine is more interrogating the individual and seeing how the individual responds to disease,” he explains. In the world of trauma, this means developing ways to use information from standard imaging and understanding patient profile responses based on measurements such as blood pressure and pH levels, and how that information might predict short- and- long-term results for patients who sustain traumatic injuries. “We’re trying to generate information within 60 to 90 minutes that tells the team not only that day, but over several days, the best way to treat their patient to optimize outcome.”

Dr. McKinley’s team received a grant for more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for this study. IU School of Medicine is currently collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh, Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, University of Texas-Houston and the Carolinas Medical Center to study precision trauma approaches to treat severely injured patients.

“What we’re working toward is preventing prolonged injuries that can plague people forever by treating them in the best way possible,” said Dr. McKinley. “More importantly, we are generating further understanding as to why some patients respond the way they do and then coming up with new treatments that prevent those untoward responses.”

Other key IU School of Medicine researchers include Stephanie Savage, MD, MS, Department of Surgery; Ben Zarzaur, MD, MPH, Department of Surgery; Greg Gaski, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; and Krista Brown, MS, CCRS, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Others instrumental in the success of this study include the advanced practice provider team and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nursing staff at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

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With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across nine campuses and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, Indiana University School of Medicine is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.