Over the last couple of years, there have been numerous recorded incidents of mental illnesses in the U.S. Military. War related trauma, foreign environments, past history and many other factors have been related to such illnesses. The unreported incidents are known to have a higher volume of such issues with little or no success related results.
According to statistical data from the U.S. Army, mental issues are part of an individual’s experiences during his service. Almost one in nine medical discharges is a result of diagnosed mental ailment. Some suggest that these incidents are not surprising because of the horrific things that officers and soldiers encounter or are asked to do as part of their commitment to protecting the country.
DARPA has been working on several projects to better understand how an on-field individual’s brain works, and is affected by direct and indirect factors. The organization has recently made announcements concerning a new project with a worth of $70 million. It is called: ‘Systems Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies.’
Otherwise known as SUBNETs, the project will lead DARPA researchers to carry on with surgical treatments for people enrolled in the U.S. Military. Through such invasive solutions, DARPA is expected to successfully plant a pacemaker in the subject’s skull to track down all brain activities in real time. Diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Epilepsy will be dealt with at the break of earliest symptoms.
The SUBNETs project is inspired by DBS, Deep Brain Stimulation treatment, which also possesses a surgical aspect. According to DBS, the patient undergoes invasive brain treatment to help doctors cure him/ her of the illness in question. DARPA’s objective is to be able to monitor the subject’s brain patterns, analyze them and then issue interventions later on.
Justin Sanchez, Program Manager of DARPA Subnet Project, said, “If Subnets is successful, it will advance neuropsychiatry beyond the realm of dialogue-driven observations and resultant trial and error and into the realm of therapy driven by quantifiable characteristics of neural state.”
During the initial test phases, DARPA will require consent and willingness of patients who are looking to act on volunteer basis. Such patients are most likely to be individuals who have a long history of chronic headache, depression, post traumatic stress and other issues.
Sanchez further continued, “We’re talking about a whole systems approach to the brain, not a disease-by-disease examination of a single process or a subset of processes. Subnets is going to be a cross-disciplinary, expansive team effort, and the program will integrate and build upon historical DARPA research investments.”