DVBIC: 25 Years of Service

In 1992, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center was founded with the Congressionally-defined mission of “tracking head injury victims, ensuring that the victim is getting appropriate treatment, studying the outcome of the treatment, and for counseling family members of the victim.” It began with the motto and mission “learn as you treat,” but DVBIC’s role has changed and expanded over the years. DVBIC now manages the Defense Department’s TBI Pathway of Care, a DoD-wide partnership designed to further advance care and optimize outcomes across the Military Health System (MHS).

Senior Defense Department officials realized the need to more fully investigate head injuries after the first Gulf War.  They tapped Dr. Andres Salazar to launch a stand-alone center, initially named Defense and Veterans Head Injury Program, dedicated to head injury education, research and care.   Salazar had significant expertise with the topic, as he had founded the Army Penetrating Head Injury Project in 1986, which built on the work of Dr. William Caveness (who’d been researching military penetrating head injuries since 1954).

Researchers conducted their first research protocols at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, one of the first seven DVBIC network sites. Other sites were at Lackland Air Force Base, Naval Medical Center San Diego and Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Centers in Richmond, Minneapolis, Palo Alto and Tampa. DVBIC’s network has grown to 19 sites, to include all five VA polytrauma centers and one site overseas, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.

DVBIC’s core mission is to serve as the manager of the TBI Pathway of Care. Clinical support is the primary function to ensure service members and veterans are receiving state-of-the-science care. The Clinical Affairs division ensures those who treat service members and veterans—whether they work in the DoD, VA or are TRICARE providers—can turn to DVBIC clinical recommendations on the treatment of TBI and the management of complex symptoms. DVBIC has produced 12 clinical recommendations, beginning with the Military Acute Concussion Evaluation (MACE) tool in 2006, covering such topics as the management of sleep disturbances, headaches, dizziness and vision problems following mild TBI.

DVBIC’s Research division conducts and supports military-relevant TBI research across the care continuum and translates research findings into clinical practice. DVBIC’s research portfolio is mapped to MHS TBI research gaps and priorities. DVBIC researchers have published more than 400 peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from cognitive rehabilitation to caregiver quality of life. Congressionally-mandated 15-year longitudinal studies on the natural history of traumatic brain injury and the effects on family caregivers have recently reached their halfway points.

DVBIC’s Education division provides evidence-based knowledge about TBI through educational programs, activities and resources by educating and training health care providers; by performing outreach and education to service members, veterans, caregivers and family members; and by producing state-of-the-science education and training resources.

DVBIC’s place in the field of TBI research and treatment is bolstered by the many organizations with which it partners. Most important to the organization’s success is the DVBIC network: 14 military hospitals and five Veterans Affairs hospitals with DVBIC staff who lead and guide TBI research, provide support to TBI patients, and offer education for medical team members, service members, veterans and caregivers. DVBIC also partners with dozens of other military organizations, nonprofits and private companies who are dedicated to solving the most difficult problems associated with TBI.

Building on its 25 years of history, DVBIC looks forward to taking on its next 25, with the knowledge that much work must still be done to advance the field of TBI.

As we celebrate our first quarter century throughout 2017, DVBIC would like you to take part in our celebration. Follow us on Facebook and join our parent command, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, as we share stories throughout this year with the hashtag #DVBIC25.