Managing Complex Peripheral Nerve Injuries Within the Military Health System: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Treatment, Education, and Research at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Sean M. Wade*, Leon J. Nesti, Glen A. Cook, Jonathan S. Bresner, Joseph P. Happel, Alexander J. Villahermosa, Angelica M. Melendez-Munoz, Yessenia D. Gomez, David E. Reece, Matthew E. Miller, Jason M. Souza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Peripheral nerve injuries are a leading cause of disability within the Military Health System (MHS) patient population. Many peripheral nerve injuries (PNIs) are amenable to therapeutic intervention but require a timely diagnosis and prompt referral to a specialty center capable of intervention, as functional outcomes are directly related to the duration between injury and intervention. Even when appropriately identified, PNI management in the MHS is often challenged by the lack of an established pathway for care coordination and a limited awareness of available diagnostic and therapeutic resources. To address these potential shortcomings, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Peripheral Nerve Program (WRNMMC PNP) in Bethesda, MD, has been established to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care to peripheral nerve-injured patients across the MHS. Additionally, the WRNMMC PNP provides graduate medical education training in PNI management for multiple residency and fellowship programs, and it facilitates critical peripheral nerve research to advance knowledge within the field. Materials and Methods: A retrospective review of all patients evaluated by the WRNMMC PNP between December 2015 and April 2019 was conducted in order to identify pertinent patient demographic information, referral patterns, and PNI etiology data. Results: The WRNMMC PNP evaluated 356 patients consisting of active duty, dependents, retirees, and Veterans Affairs patients during the designated study period. These patients were referred by providers from more than nine different specialties from 78 commands across eight countries. The majority of these patients (222 patients) were referred for traumatic PNI. The WRNMMC PNP has also evaluated and treated patients with PNIs stemming from congenital and compressive etiologies. One hundred and one patients referred during this period were treated with surgery, while the remainder were managed through nonoperative means. Conclusions: The WRNMMC PNP facilitates comprehensive, patient-centered care for PNI patients within the MHS. Moreover, the program helps to prepare the next generation of providers for evaluating and treating PNI patients through its involvement with graduate medical education training. It also conducts critical peripheral nerve research and lays the foundation for collaborations with other institutions involved with peripheral nerve research. In the years ahead, the WRNMMC PNP aims to expand its outreach and capabilities within the MHS through more expansive use of telemedicine consultation and the establishment of satellite peripheral nerve clinic sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E825-E830
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume185
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

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