Center For The Intrepid… Catering To Tech Savvy Generation
March 17, 2007
In early February, I wrote an article about the Grand Opening ceremonies for the Center For The Intrepid located at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Center For The Intrepid provides state of the art rehabilitation for severely injured soldiers who are treated at Brooke Army Medical Center. I found an article detailing some of the special equipment at the Center For The Intrepid. Our Wounded Warriors are indeed receiving the very BEST at the Center For The Intrepid. I’m extremely impressed with the fantastic rehabilitation program there.
The Center features one-of-a-kind virtual reality simulator and a sport program that according to the deputy chief administrator of Brooke Army Medical Center, Col. John Shero, can challenge even the most intense extreme sports fan. The Army’s newest physical rehabilitation center features state of the art programs and equipment, such as a gait lab, a Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment or CAREN; indoor running track, a 2 story climbing wall and a prosthetic fabrication lab.
“The equipment and technology are without parallel anywhere in the world,” said Col. Mark Bagg, director of Center For The Intrepid and Chief of Orthopedics at Brooke Army Medical Center.
Everything is designed to help wounded warriors who are dealing with severe extremity injuries, burns and amputations be able to maximize their quality of live and enable them to live and work productively after leaving the hospital. The customized equipment is also designed with fun in mind, to ensure that the wounded warriors have a bit of fun, while they travel the sometimes long road to recovery from their injuries.
Some of the equipment at Center For The Intrepid, is not found anywhere else in the United States. In the Military Performance Lab, which includes the CAREN, there is a 21 foot dome with a 300 degree screen. On the screen is displayed various virtual reality situations. Patients are able to stand on a moving platform that may swat like a speed boat on rough water or incline, as if they were hiking up a hill. There are also city street simulations to help the patients learn to readjust to the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the city. They may encounter fast walkers that they have to dodge on a crowded street. With some of the injured having to deal with prosthetics or severe injuries that may limit their mobility, this type of physical therapy helps to ease the transition back into everyday living. The CAREN is one of only 9 in the entire world and the only one located in the United States.
There is also a Firearms Training Simulator. This puts the wounded warriors through senarios of dangerous situations, testing their ability to quickly respond and react to situations on the street. FATS not only helps to improve their hand-eye coordination but it also aids in keeping them up to date on the weapons systems in the military. There have been several wounded warriors, who following hospitalization and rehabilitation, have remained in the Military with some even returning to Iraq. There have been several successes with amputees returning to the warzone. It’s amazing that technology allows these warriors to continue their careers in the military. Programs such as Center For The Intrepid and the programs at Walter Reed, allow this to happen.
“It feels great,” said Marine SSG Alejandro Del Rio, who was trying out the simulator for the first time. Del Rio was severely wounded in Iraq by a bomb blast. He lost both of his legs below the knee, sustained damage to his right arm and part of his left hand and forearm. Despite these injuries, Del Rio fired with ease.
When it comes to the sports challenges offered the Wounded Warriors at CFI, the patients can traverse to the top of a 21 foot climbing wall or play volleyball in a 6 lane swimming pool. Another technological wonder is the “Flowrider,” which allows the wounded warrior to ride the waves on a bodyboard. This aids in improving their balance, coordination, strength and stamina.
The majority of the equipment at Center For The Intrepid is not only ggeared to rehabilitation but also research. Information that is collected in the lab on equipment such as the Gait Lab and CAREN will ultimately be able to help the physicians, physical therapists and the prosthetists adjust the treatment plans for the patients to thus be able to improve the patients functionality.
“We’re learning at the same time the patients are getting therapy,” Col. Bagg said.
The Center For The Intrepid was a gift to the Army from Americans. More than 600,00 people donated $50 million to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to build the center, which opened officially with much fanfare in late January.
“The facility, Bagg said, is a dream come true.”
The fact that the Center For The Intrepid was built entirely from funds donated by people all over America gives testament to America’s support and dedication to our Military and our Wounded Warriors. The state-of-the art equipment that is being used with patients here, allows the Wounded Warriors the best possible opportunity to lead full and productive lives despite their, many times horrific injuries.