Assisting the wounded warrior

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The military of today differs tremendously from the past, not only in combat styles, but also in its quest to rehabilitate and reactivate wounded veterans in its volunteer regiments. "It's all about making those warriors fit to fight again," said Nino Pionati, president, Global Marketing and Business Development for Convatec. "In many cases, it's helping them get back to a normal life when they get home."

At this year's AdvaMed conference, representatives from ARANZ Medical, Neuronetics, Convatec and DH3 & Associates discussed the need for more civilian-level medical device innovation to be brought into the military arena. The companies have developed everything from wound dressings and continence care products to depression-treating devices and 3D modeling equipment used to fit prostheses. But, they emphasized, there is still a lot of room for growth in the sector.

Any medical device company can enter the military market at any stage of the process, whether they have a product already FDA-approved or a formulating idea. "That's part of their [the military's] mission, to look at high risk technology," said Dave Hood, president of DH3 & Associates and former senior advisor for the principal assistant for acquisitions at the U.S. Army MRMC. "They are very active in funding a lot of innovative technology."

Small companies like Neuronetics have found considerable success in their work with the military. "As long as you have a clinical champion who will drive through the bureaucracy, it works," said Bruce Shook, President and CEO of Neuronetics. Neuronetics' magnetic stimulation device, which is usually used to treat severe depression, is now preparing for clinical trials for PTSD and traumatic brain injury patients. Military hospitals are also considering using it for phantom limb pain in amputee victims.

"It's come a long way from the beaches of Normandy," Hood said, "but there's a lot more we can do."

- check out the AdvaMed release

Editor's note: The article mistakenly referred to Neuronetics' magnetic stimulation device as belonging to ARANZ Medical. The error has been fixed.