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In an effort to better understand the voice of the trauma patient as it relates to advocacy and the research agenda across the spectrum of care, NTI launched its Advocacy & Patient Engagement Committee this fall. NTI Board Member Dr. Martin Croce, Chief of Trauma at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, leads the effort.

Committee membership includes professionals from surgery to recovery and rehabilitation as well as traumatic injury survivors. The group now meets monthly via conference call to help shape NTI’s planning and messaging–from its advocacy activities in Washington to the research it sponsors and manages.

Committee member Dr. Patrick Downes, is a Boston Marathon bombing survivor and amputee who, along with his wife, Jessica Kensky, petitioned to receive treatment rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center alongside military members. His advocacy goal is to broaden civilian access to such advanced trauma care. “When these national tragedies happen, as a country we vow to make any and all resources available to the survivors, and the next step is to actually do that,” he said.

Following their tragedy, Patrick and Jessica discovered that the process to gain access to military trauma care is neither easy nor transparent. “Military medicine has a vast knowledge base and the resources to provide both acute care and the long-term rehab often required by the injured in mass casualty situations,” he said. Their experience adds to the collection of personal and compelling stories that NTI and the Coalition for National Trauma Research will take to Washington in early 2018 when they meet with legislators to discuss trauma research funding needs.

Other committee members are Anna Newcomb, trauma research manager at Inova Trauma Center in Fairfax and an architect of the Trauma Survivor Network; Peter Thomas, a lawyer with a practice in healthcare and disability policy and a trauma survivor himself; Ian Weston, executive director of the American Trauma Society; and Terrie Stewart, trauma program director at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, FL.