I have said it many times on the blog, the US Military has been ahead of the game on concussions. Not only their research but their sudden and correct actions of taking soldiers out of action after sustaining a concussion. In fact all military personnel who sustain a concussion are not only prescribed rest there is a mandatory 72 hour observation.
It should not be surprising that there are lingering effects from a battle concussion, what may be surprising is the sheer amount of service men and women that may be affected daily by just headaches. Recent data published in Headache by Army researchers shows that nearly 20% of soldiers that sustained a concussive episode had been diagnosed with “chronic daily headache”;
Of those, a quarter had the headaches every day. More soldiers with chronic headaches had symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than those who did not suffer frequent headaches. […]
The chronic headache group was also more likely to score higher Continue reading
Not only is the month of March devoted to honor and make people aware of the wonderful profession of Athletic Training it also coincides with Brain Injury Awareness Month. Could there be a better combination? I would think not!
The United States Army and the Joint IED Defeat Organization funded a study looking into various military and football helmet pads and their attenuation of concussive forces. Posted on R&D Magazine online the results were summed up this way;
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have found that soldiers using military helmets one size larger and with thicker pads could reduce the severity of traumatic brain injury (TBI) from blunt and ballistic impacts.
This would be a low-cost solution/improvement on current technology. The study did indicate that no material tested outperformed the current padding in the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH); they looked at old military padding, two types of padding in NFL helmets and “padding used in other protective equipment”.
The researchers Willy Moss and Mike King say that these results can be used in current sports too; Continue reading
And it is about DANG time the military came around on this. I say military but really the Army is taking the lead as they have recently reviewed their designations for the Purple Heart, and concussions will now be considered for the honor. There is hope that the other branches will follow suit and make concussions worthy of a Purple Heart.
It wasn’t like the Army did this on their own, it took pressure from the civilian sector, namely the NPR;
In response to the ProPublica/NPR reporting, which showed that Army commanders denied some soldiers the Purple Heart even after they suffered documented concussions, the Army’s Chiarelli called for a review of the guidelines. On Wednesday, he announced clarified rules, including a checklist of valid treatments (bed rest and Tylenol among them), that will make it easier for war veterans to receive the Purple Heart after sustaining concussions.
I must say this is great news, because by making this distinction more awareness will be given to “closed head trauma” and making the ‘invisible’ injury more visible to everyone. And I echo the sentiments Continue reading
Dr. Ann McKee, of the Boston University “brain bank” associated with the Sports Legacy Institute, recently spoke to the U.S. Army during a conference on how to protect soldiers’ brains. Her specialty is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and finding this disease in brains sent for sampling.
The bulk of the 66 brains in her team’s “brain bank” are boxers and football players who had experienced repeated blows to the head during their careers. But she did have in her collection the brains of five former Soldiers. The disease, CTE, is the result of repeated trauma to the head.
“This disease does develop in military veterans — it really has been described in many different types of mild traumatic injury,” McKee said. “It’s less important how you get the injury, what’s important is that you had repetitive injury.
Dr. McKee, along with Dr. Benett Omalu, are pioneers in this field and a lot of what they have to say is unfiltered/censored by “bigger” entities.
The US Army along with Banyan Biomarkers have been working on a simple blood test to administer to patients (in this case soldiers) that can identify even the most minor of concussions. The USAToday has the full story on this. This is possibly one of the biggest breakthroughs in concussion research, on the diagnosing side of things. Traditional imaging techniques, MR/CT, do not show a concussion and are really only used to rule out brain bleeds. The blood is being tested for certain proteins that are released upon a concussion. If this trial is conclusive and gets approval this will be another weapon in the arsenal to identify the issue. Coupled with the research and development in recovery this could mean safer and quicker return to action, whether it be battle or sports.