The Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) held a Spring Capitol Hill Briefing on May 16th to present ongoing research and technologies to Congressional Staffers in two sessions. The event was moderated by Rick Starrs, NAVREF CEO, with remarks given by the CRADO, Dr. Rachel Ramoni and Dr. Patricia Dorn from ORD.
Dr. Leigh Hochberg from the VA RR&D Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology in Providence presented research into neural pathways between the brain and computers to communicate with writing programs as well as robotic limbs. He emphasized that with current Wi-Fi technologies, we may be close to neural implants that communicate with computer systems. Dr. Dustin Tyler from the VA RR&D Center for Advanced Platform Technology in Cleveland presented research into peripheral nerve interfaces for prosthetics that can deliver the sense of feeling and was joined by vet Keith. Dr. Goldish from the Minneapolis VA Health Care System Extended Care and Rehabilitation Service Line brought vet John along to help demonstrate the progress made with a mobile manual standing wheelchair and the need for further advancements, such as lighter materials. Dr. Ann Spungen from the VA RR&D Center for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury at James J. Peters VAMC in Bronx, NY was joined by vet Luke and biomechanical engineer Pierre to demonstrate how an exoskeleton uses natural tilt to assist person with SCI in walking.
Presenters expressed the need for VA support to continue their research as well as how much more these technologies can do to help veterans in the future. Staff members from the offices for Representatives Banks (R-IN), Coffman (R-CO), Grisham (D-NM), Lawson (D-FL), Palmer (R-6-AL), Veasey (D-TX), and Walorski (R-IN) attended the briefing sessions. Audience members also included members from Vietnam Veterans of America, ORD, OCLA, RR&D, AAMC, APA, IAVA, Academy Health, NAEVR, NAMI, SVAC, and the Senate Committee of Veterans Affairs.
NAVREF is an executive member of the Friends of VA coalition.