Military Advanced Training Center Opens At Walter Reed
September 17, 2007
The new $10 million Military Advanced Training Center opened its doors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Sept 13 to offer rehabilitating Soldiers the latest in cutting edge equipment to help with their recovery. Photo by Department of the Army.
The newest in the Army’s committment to offer state-of-the-art healthcare for Wounded Warriors opened at Walter Reed on September 13th. The new Military Advanced Training Center represents “an evolution in how we embrace, treat and honor,” wounded warriors according to the Army Vice Chief of Staff, General Richard Cody.
This center has been the “baby” of Major David Rozelle who I featured a story on back in June. Major Rozelle has been in charge of overseeing the construction of the facility and helping to determine what equipment was needed in the facility. If you recall from the story about Major Rozelle, he lost his foot to an IED in Iraq, began competing in marathons during his recovery, returned to active duty and Iraq, before going to Walter Reed for this project. The 31,000 square foot center offers wounded warriors some of the most state-of-the-art care found anywhere in the world.
“No matter the time, no matter the cost,” said General Cody, “this nation will always stand behind you and your families.” He told the patients at the grand opening ceremony. “On a daily basis, this center will be witness to incredible acts of kindness and medical professionalism and of the personal courage and our warrior’s indomitable spirit,” the general said.
The center will be a source of inspiration, both through the top-notch care that is provided to the patients, but also through the drive the patients show as they work to move beyond their injuries. There will be hard-won victories, painful breakthroughs, much investment of sweat and tears and lots of heart. That will become a source of pride to all who wittness the fortitude and courage of the young men and women who will come to the center for their rehabilitation.
The center will house more than 15 specialties including physicians, nurse case managers, therapists, psychologists, social workers, benefits counselors and representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The facility has been designed for ease of use by the patients and has the latest in computer and video monitoring, as well as prosthetics to enable the staff to enhance amputee and patient care.
The Chief of Amputee Service at Walter Reed, Charles Scoville said that the building was specifically designed to bring together the multi-disciplinary team who care for wounded warriors in transition.
“Our team will provide care from initial surgery through reintegration of warriors to their units, or a seamless transition to VA care,” he said.
Army National Guard Spc. Marco Robledo is hooked into the harness of the Solo-Step system, which allows him to practice walking independently without danger of falling. The track is a one-of-a-kind system only at the new Military Advanced Training Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The $10 million, 31-000-square-foot facility opened Sept. 13. Photo by Fred W. Baker III
Also included in the center is the MATC’s Center for Performance and Clinical Research, or what is known as the gait lab. The gait lab measures a patients strides. It contains 6 calibrated forces places. There are 4 for walking and 2 for running. It also includes a dual force-place treadmill, which is used to conduct a running analysis and research protocols for prolonged activity. There are 23 infra-red cameras mounted around the room to gather data. According to Mr. Scoville, researchers are measuring more than a runner’s gait and the data will play a significant role in eusuring proper prosthetic fit and alighment as well as help to chose the appropriate foot or knee for the amputee.
Another thing that the center will feature is the Computer Assisted Rehab Environment, or CAREN, which is designed to build a virtual environment around a patient performing tasks on a treadmill which is bolted to a helicopter simulator. The CAREN uses a video captured system similar to the gait lab, but also includes an interactive platform that will respond to the patient’s every move. According to Mr. Scoville, there are only 3 CAREN systems like this in the world, one of which is in San Antonio at the Center For The Intrepid which I featured a story about in March.
“There are only three CAREN systems like this one in the world,” Mr. Scoville said. “Its platform is so sensitive you can stand a pencil on its end and the platform will keep it vertical.”
The CAREN system can be used for more than just amputees, though. It can also be used to assist warriors who are suffering from PTSD, by reintroducting them to both simple and complex environments and measuring their performance while ensuring complete safety.
“We can continually add stressors,” Mr. Scoville said. “We can start with the patient walking on an empty street and gradually add parked cars, traffic, pedestrians and noise. We’ll take the patient to the edge of discomfort, but not beyond what they can handle.”
A Telemedicine Conference Room is also available, allowing wounded warriors to communicate with their units in Iraq and Afghanistan, or their family members back home via video teleconference. They only need to reserve the room. This technology also allows doctors, nurses and medics in the combat zone and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, to follow the progress of the patient.
“The Soldiers can communicate with the people who took care of them at each step of their treatment,” Mr. Scoville said. “It gives the medical personnel in theater a chance to see how they’re doing, which they normally wouldn’t have.”
Other features of the facility is the centers 225 foot indoor track which has the worlds first oval support harness. Additionally there is a rope climb and rock wall, uneven terrain and incline parallel vars, vehicular stimulators, a firearms training simulator, physical therapy, athletic and exercise areas and an occupational therapy lab. There are also prosthetic training and skill training areas, prosthetic adjustment and fitting rooms and separate exam rooms for all amputee related care.
“It allows the Soldiers to walk or run without a therapist tethered to them,” said Mr. Scoville of the oval support harness. According to Mr. Scoville, patients can recover more quickly because the therapist is free to provide immediate feedback to the patient while he or she observes their gait.
The center enhances the capabilities of the existing Walter Reed facilities and supports the goal of returning multi-skilled leaders and Soldiers back to active duty. Construction on the facility was completed three months ahead of schedule.
Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson was present at the grand opening. He says the new center will bring it all togheter, heroism, miracles, competence and a nation’s kept promise to wounded warriors.
“Battlefield wounds no longer mean that wounded troups must shelve their personal dreams or settle for less than fulfilling careers,” he said. “Today with the opening of this training center, the lives of our Soldiers wounded in the defense of freedom will have the opportunity for new avenues of hope and reality, new hope for a brighter future, including, for many, that of staying on active duty,” he said. “This speaks volumes about the quality of leadership in their chain of command and about their satisfaction in what they are doing to thwart terrorism and to protect American,” said Nicholson when speaking of the many patients he’s visited at Walter Reed who share their desire to get back to duty with their units. “It also speaks volumes about the quality of medical care and rehabilitation services that they receive here at Walter Reed.”
With the opening of the new Military Advanced Training Center t Walter Reed, along with the Center For The Intrepid in San Antonio, wounded warriors now have the best medical and rehabilitation treatment available to them. I’m looking forward to hearing the inspirational success stories that will begin to come out of the Military Advanced Training Center and the Center For The Intrepid, as I’m sure there will be many.