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Featured Articles

Spring 2015

Return to Duty After Severe Bilateral Lower Extremity Trauma

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Sheean AJ, Owens J, Suttles ST, Crossland BW, Stinner DJ. 15(1). 1 - 6. (Case Reports)

Abstract

Despite the preponderance of evidence demonstrating poor outcomes as a result of combat-related orthopaedic trauma, teams of medical professionals have remained undaunted in their pursuit of innovative techniques to maximize the functional capacity of Servicemembers with devastating extremity injuries. We present the case of an Active Duty Special Forces (SF) qualified senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) with severely injured extremities successfully salvaged with a multidisciplinary program involving cutting-edge prosthetic technology and a novel approach to physical rehabilitation.

Keywords: ankle fusion; outcomes; limb salvage; rehabilitation

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Special Operations Soldier With Cardiac Family History: Use of CCTA and Protein Biomarker Testing to Detect Risk of Heart Attack From Noncalcified Plaque

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Singh M, Kroman A, Singh J, Tariq H, Amin S, Morales-Pablon CA, Cahill KV, Harrison EE. 15(1). 7 - 10. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Objective: We sought to characterize the risk of a heart attack in a 48-year-old asymptomatic US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Soldier without known coronary artery disease (CAD). Background: CAD continues to be a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among most age groups in the United States. Much research is dedicated to establishing new techniques to predict myocardial infarction (MI). Methods: Coronary computed tomography (CT) angiography, also known as CCTA, along with 7-protein serum biomarker risk assessment was performed for risk evaluation. Results: A 48-year-old SOCOM Soldier with a family history of heart disease had skeletal chest pain from war injuries and a 5-fold higher risk of heart attack over the next 5 years on the basis of protein markers. A nonobstructive left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD) plaque with a lipid-rich core and a thin fibrous cap (i.e., vulnerable plaque) was detected by CCTA. The patient was warned about his risk and prescribed four cardiac medications and scheduled for angioplasty even though he fell outside the guidelines by not having a severe obstructive blockage. Four days later, unfortunately, he had a heart attack before starting his medications and before angioplasty. Conclusion: CCTA with biomarker testing may have an important role in predicating acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in Special Operations Forces (SOF) Soldiers with at least one risk factor. Conventional stress testing and nuclear scanning would not detect non-flow-limiting vulnerable plaques in vulnerable patients. In order to collect more data, the PROTECT Registry has been started to evaluate asymptomatic Soldiers with at least one risk factor referred to the clinic by military physicians.

Keywords: cardiac risk; heart attack; CCTA; risk assessment

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Decompression Sickness Following Altitude-Chamber Training

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Studer NM, Hughes JR, Puskar J. 15(1). 11 - 15. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Decompression sickness (DCS) is one of several dysbarisms (medical conditions resulting from a change in atmospheric pressure) that can be encountered by the Special Operations Forces (SOF) medical provider. DCS can present with several different manifestations. The authors present the case of a 23-year-old Airman who presented with vague neurologic symptoms following altitude-chamber training. They discuss the care of casualties with DCS and its implications for SOF.

Keywords: decompression sickness; Type II DCS; dysbarism; gas embolism; hyperbaric oxygen; altitude chamber; demand value; Oxylator®; hypoxia; hypobaric

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Optimizing the Use of Limb Tourniquets in Tactical Combat Casualty Care: TCCC Guidelines Change 14-02

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Shackelford S, Butler FK, Kragh JF, Stevens RA, Seery JM, Parsons DL, Montgomery HR, Kotwal RS, Mabry RL, Bailey JA. 15(1). 17 - 31. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Keywords: tourniquet; Tactical Combat Casualty Care guidelines; external hemorrhage control; shock; resuscitation; emergency medical services

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Laboratory Testing of Emergency Tourniquets Exposed to Prolonged Heat

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Davinson JP, Kragh JF, Aden JK, DeLorenzo RA, Dubick MA. 15(1). 32 - 28. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: Environmental exposure of tourniquets has been associated with component damage rates, but the specific type of environmental exposure, such as heat, is unknown. Emergency-tourniquet damage has been associated with malfunction and loss of hemorrhage control, which may risk loss of life during first aid. The purposes of the study are to determine the damage rate of tourniquets exposed to heat and to compare the rate to that of controls. Methods: Three tourniquet models (Combat Application Tourniquet®; SOF® Tactical Tourniquet; Ratcheting Medical Tourniquet®) were tested using a manikin (HapMed Leg Tourniquet Trainer; www.chisystems .com) that simulates extremity hemorrhage. The study group of 15 tourniquets (five devices per model, three models) was exposed to heat (oven at 54.4°C [130°F] for 91 days), and 15 tourniquets similarly constituted the control group (unexposed to heat). Damage, hemorrhage control, distal pulse stoppage, time to effectiveness, pressure (mmHg), and blood loss volumes were measured. Results: Three tourniquets in both groups had damage not associated with heat exposure (ρ = 1). Heat exposure was not associated with change in effectiveness rates (ρ = .32); this lack of association applied to both hemorrhage control and pulse stoppage. When adjusted for the effects of user and model, the comparisons of time to effectiveness and total blood loss were statistically significant (ρ < .0001), but the comparison of pressure was not (ρ = .0613). Conclusion: Heat exposure was not associated with tourniquet damage, inability to gain hemorrhage control, or inability to stop the distal pulse.

Keywords: tourniquet; hemorrhage; resuscitation; medical device; injuries; wounds

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Initial Tourniquet Pressure Does Not Affect Tourniquet Arterial Occlusion Pressure

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Slaven SE, Wall PL, Rinker JH, Halub ME, Hopkins JW, Sahr SM, Buising CM. 15(1). 39 - 49. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: Effective nonelastic strap-based tourniquets are typically pulled tight and friction or hook-and-loop secured before engaging a mechanical advantage system to reach arterial occlusion pressure. This study examined the effects of skin surface initial secured pressure (Friction Pressure) on the skin surface pressure applied at arterial occlusion (Occlusion Pressure) and on the use of the mechanical advantage system. Methods: Combat Application Tourniquets® (CATs; combattourniquet.com) and Tactical Ratcheting Medical Tourniquets (RMTs; www .ratchetingbuckles.com) were applied to 12 recipient thighs with starting Friction Pressures of 25 (RMT only), 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 (CAT only), and 200mmHg (CAT only). The CAT strap was single threaded. Pressure was measured with an air-filled, size #1, neonatal blood pressure cuff under the Base (CAT), Ladder (RMT), and Strap (CAT and RMT) of each 3.8cm-wide tourniquet. Results: Base or Ladder pressure and Strap pressure were related but increasingly different at increasing pressures, with Strap pressures being lower (Friction Pressure, r > 0.91; Occlusion Pressure, r > 0.60). Friction Pressure did not affect Occlusion Pressure for either design. Across the 12 thighs, the correlation coefficient for Strap Friction Pressure versus CAT windlass turns was r = -0.91 ± 0.04, and versus RMT ladder distance traveled was r = -0.94 ± 0.06. Friction Pressures of 150mmHg or greater were required to achieve CAT Occlusion with two or fewer windlass turns. CAT and RMT Strap Occlusion Pressures were similar on each recipient (median, minimum - maximum; CAT: 318mmHg, 260-536mmHg; RMT: 328mmHg, 160-472mmHg). Conclusions: Achieving high initial strap tension is desirable to minimize windlass turns or ratcheting buckle travel distance required to reach arterial occlusion, but does not affect tourniquet surface-applied pressure needed for arterial occlusion. For same-width, nonelastic strap-based tourniquets, differences in the mechanical advantage system may be unimportant to final tourniquet-applied pressure needed for arterial occlusion.

Keywords: tourniquet; hemorrhage control; first aid; emergency treatment

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Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation for Extremity Weakness: A Case Series

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Hylden C, Burns T, Stinner DJ, Owens J. 15(1). 50 - 56. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: Blood flow restricted (BFR) training, the brief and partial restriction of venous outflow of an extremity during low load resistance exercises, is a safe and effective method of improving strength in healthy, active individuals. A relatively unexplored potential of this adjunctive modality lies in treating patients with severe musculoskeletal trauma, persistent chronic quadriceps and hamstring weakness despite traditional therapy, and low improvement during early postoperative strengthening. Methods: This case series describes patients with chronic quadriceps and hamstring weakness who received an intervention of BFR at low loads, 20% of 1 repetition max (1RM), to restore strength. A case series was conducted of seven patients, all located at one hospital and all with traumatic lower extremity injuries. The seven patients were treated at the same medical center and with the same BFR protocol. All seven patients had isokinetic dynamometer testing that showed persistent thigh muscle weakness despite previous rehabilitation with traditional therapy and 35% to 75% peak torque deficit in either knee extension or flexion compared with the contralateral lower extremity. Patients underwent 2 weeks of BFR training therapy using a pneumatic tourniquet set at 110mmHg while performing leg extensions, leg presses, and reverse leg presses. All affected extremities were retested after 2 weeks (six treatment sessions). Dynamometer measurements were done with flexion and extension at two speeds: 90° and 300°/sec. The data recorded included peak torque normalized for body weight, average power, and total work. Results: All seven patients demonstrated improvements in peak torque, average power, and total work for both knee flexion and extension, with power being the most improved overall. Peak torque improved an average of 13% to 37%, depending on contraction direction and speed. Average power improved an average of 42% to 81%, and total work improved an average of 35% to 55%. Conclusion: BFR therapy at low loads can affect improvement in muscle strength in patients who are unable to perform high-resistance exercise or patients who have persistent extremity weakness despite traditional therapy.

Keywords: strengthening; muscle mass; tourniquet; physical therapy; blood flow restriction; vascular occlusion

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The Effects of Movement on Hemorrhage When QuikClot® Combat Gauze™ Is Used in a Hypothermic Hemodiluted Porcine Model

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Garcia-Blanco J, Gegel B, Burgert J, Johnson S, Johnson D. 15(1). 57 - 60. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of QuikClot® Combat Gauze™ (QCG) to a control wound dressing to withstand movement in a porcine model with hemodilution and hypothermia. Design: This was a prospective study with a between-subjects experimental design. Twenty-six Yorkshire swine were randomly assigned to two groups: QCG (n = 13) or a control dressing (n = 13). Methods: The subjects were exsanguinated to 30% of the blood volume; hypothermia was induced for 10 minutes. The hemostatic agent, QCG, was placed into the wound, followed by standard wound packing. If hemostasis was achieved, 5L of crystalloid solution were rapidly administered intravenously, and the wound was again observed for rebleeding. If no bleeding occurred, the extremity on the side of the injury was systematically moved through flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction sequentially 10 times or until rebleeding occurred. Results: An independent t test indicated there were significant differences in the number of movements before rebleeding between the QCG group (mean ± standard deviation [SD], 32.92 ± 14.062) and the control group (mean ± SD, 6.15 ± 15.021) (ρ < .0001). Conclusion: QCG produces a robust clot that can withstand more movement than a control dressing.

Keywords: movement; hemorrhage; QuikClot®; Combat Gauze™; hypothermic hemodiluted porcine model

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Review, Clinical Update, and Practice Guidelines for Excited Delirium Syndrome

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Gerold KB, Gibbons ME, Fisette RE, Alves D. 15(1). 62 - 69. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Excited delirium syndrome (ExDS) is a term used to describe patients experiencing a clinical condition characterized by bizarre and aggressive behavior, often in association with the use of chronic sympathomimetic drug abuse. The agitated and disruptive behavior of persons with ExDS often results in a call to police resulting in an arrest for disorderly conduct. The suspect's inability to comply with police commands during the arrest frequently results in a struggle and the use of physical or chemical control measures, including the use of conductive energy weapons (CEWs). Deaths from this hypermetabolic syndrome are infrequent but potentially preventable with early identification, a coordinated aggressive police intervention, and prompt medical care. Preliminary experiences suggest that ExDS is a medical emergency treated most effectively using a coordinated response between police officers and emergency medical providers. Once the person suspected of experiencing ExDS is in custody, medical providers should rapidly sedate noncompliant patients with medications such as ketamine or an antipsychotic drug such as haloperidol in combination with a benzodiazepine drug such as midazolam or diazepam. Once sedated, patients should undergo a screening medical assessment and undergo initial treatment for conditions such as hyperthermia and dehydration. All patients exhibiting signs of ExDS should be transported rapidly to a medical treatment facility for further evaluation and treatment. This article reviews the epidemiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment options for ExDS.

Keywords: excited delirium; excited delirium syndrome; delirium; sudden death; in-custody death; hyperthermia; sympathomimetic drug use; cocaine; phencyclidine; lysergic acid diethylamide; ketamine; haloperidol; taser; conductive energy weapon; Agitated Chaotic Event&tm;; ACE; medical emergency; emergency medical services; police

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Operational Point-of-Care Ultrasound Review: Low-Cost Simulators and Resources for Advanced Prehospital Providers

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Ross EM, Deaton TG, Hurst N, Siefert J. 15(1). 71 - 78. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Prehospital ultrasound use is a relatively new skill set. The military noted the clear advantages of this skill set in the deployed setting and moved forward with teaching their advanced combat trauma medics skills to perform specific examinations. The training curriculum for Special Operations-level clinical ultrasound was created and adapted from training guidelines set forth by the American College of Emergency Physicians with a focus on the examinations relevant to the Special Operations community. Once providers leave the training environment, skill sustainment can be difficult. We discuss the relevant ultrasound exams for the prehospital setting. We address opportunities to improve point-of-care ultrasound skills through hands-on experience while in a fixed medical facility. Options for simulation-based training are discussed with descriptions for creating lowcost simulation models. Finally, a list of online resources is provided to review specific ultrasound examinations.

Keywords: point-of-care ultrasound; prehospital ultrasound; Special Operations-level clinical ultrasound; simulation

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A Study of Prehospital Medical Documentation by Military Medical Providers During Precombat Training

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McGarry AB, Mott JC, Kotwal RS. 15(1). 79 - 84. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Documentation of medical care provided is paramount for improving performance and ultimately reducing morbidity and mortality. However, documentation of prehospital trauma care on the battlefield has historically been suboptimal. Modernization of prehospital documentation tools have aligned data and information to be gathered with up-to-date treatment being rendered through Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) protocols and practices. Our study was conducted to evaluate TCCC Card completion, and accuracy of card completion, by military medical providers conducting precombat training through the Tactical Combat Medical Care Course. Study results do not show a deficiency in TCCC documentation training as provided by this course which should translate to adequate ability to accurately document prehospital trauma care on the battlefield. Leadership emphasis and community acceptance is required to increase compliance with prehospital documentation.

Keywords: combat; documentation; prehospital; trauma

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Battlefield Analgesia: TCCC Guidelines Are Not Being Followed

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Schauer SG, Robinson JB, Mabry RL, Howard JT. 15(1). 85 - 89. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: Servicemembers injured in combat often experience moderate to severe acute pain. Early and effective pain control in the prehospital setting has been shown to reduce the sequelae of untreated pain. Current data suggest that lack of point-of-injury (POI) analgesia has significant, downstream effects on healthcare quality and associated costs. Methods: This was a process improvement project to determine the current rate of adherence to existing prehospital pain management guidelines. The records of patients who had sustained a major injury and met current Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) criteria for POI analgesia from July 2013 through March 2014 were reviewed to determine if pain medication was given in accordance with existing guidelines, including medication administration and routes. On 31 October 2013, the new TCCC guidelines were released. The "before" period was from July 2013 through October 2013. The "after" period was from November 2013 through March 2014. Results: During the project period, there were 185 records available for review, with 135 meeting TCCC criteria for POI analgesia (68 pre-, 66 postintervention). Prior to 31 October 2013, 17% of study patients received analgesia within guidelines at the POI compared with 35% in the after period. The most common medication administered preand post-release was oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate. Special Operations Forces had higher adherence rates to TCCC analgesia guidelines than conventional forces, but these still were low. Conclusion: Less than half of all eligible combat casualties receive any analgesia at the POI. Further research is needed to determine the etiology of such poor adherence to current TCCC guidelines.

Keywords: analgesia; point of injury; combat; fentanyl; ketamine; morphine; military

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Only Break Glass in Case of War? The Difficulty With Combat Medic Skills Sustainment Within Our Military Treatment Facilities

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Cunningham CW. 15(1). 90 - 92. (Letter)

Mindfulness: A Fundamental Skill for Performance Sustainment and Enhancement

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Deuster PA, Schoomaker E. 15(1). 93 - 99. (Journal Article)

Abstract

The term "mindfulness" has become very fashionable within the military and across multiple sectors of civilian and first responder populations. Overall, the key concept of mindfulness is intentionally being acutely aware of what is going on internally as well as externally, without reacting. Mindfulness and the awareness that underlies it are inherent capabilities that can be honed through training. As such, classes in mindfulness are being offered in many venues and medical clinics are using mindfulness-based interventions for patients for a wide range of medical issues. The evidence behind the benefits of mindfulness is extensive and instructive. Importantly, evidence suggests that mindfulness can be helpful for many operational, leadership, and personal activities and is likely beneficial for enhancing resilience and overall health. Many current military leaders are using mindfulness as a tool to better prepare for a dynamic and uncertain future.

Keywords: mindfulness; performance sustainment; performance enhancement

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Staphylococcus sciuri: An Entomological Case Study and a Brief Review of the Literature

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Washington MA, Kajiura L, Leong MK, Agee W, Barnhill JC. 15(1). 100 - 104. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Staphylococcus sciuri is an emerging gram-positive bacterial pathogen that is infrequently isolated from cases of human disease. This organism is capable of rapid conversion from a state of methicillin sensitivity to a state of methicillin resistance and has been shown to express a set of highly effective virulence factors. The antibioticresistance breakpoints of S. sciuri differ significantly from the more common Staphylococcus species. Therefore, the rapid identification of S. sciuri in clinical material is a prerequisite for the proper determination of the antibiotic- resistance profile and the rapid initiation of antimicrobial therapy. Here, we present a brief literature review of S. sciuri and an entomological case study in which we describe the colonization of an American cockroach with this agent. In addition, we discuss potential implications for the distribution and evolution of antibiotic- resistant members of the genus Staphylococcus.

Keywords: bacteriology; entomology; operating environment; preventive medicine

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MEDCAN-GRO: Medical Capacity for African Nations-Growing Regional Operability. A Case Study in Special Operations Forces Capacity Building

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Givens ML, Verlo AR. 15(1). 105 - 112. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Medical Capacity for African Nations-Growing Regional Operability (MEDCAN-GRO) is a framework for addressing healthcare engagements that are intended to provide sustainable capacity building with partner nations. MEDCAN-GRO provides SOF units with a model that can be scaled to partner nation needs and aligned with the goals of the TSOC in an effort to enhance partner nation security.

Keywords: MEDCAN-GRO; Africa; partner nations

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A Painful Rash in an Austere Environment

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Hellums JS, Klapperich K. 15(1). 113 - 117. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Dermatologic complaints are common in the deployed environment. Preventive medicine and knowledge of indigenous flora and fauna are cornerstones for forward deployed medical personnel. This article describes a case of Paederus dermatitis in an austere environment, reviews dermatologic terminology, and provides a reminder of the importance of exercising good preventive medicine procedures.

Keywords: Africa; dermatology; Special Operations medic; Paederus dermatitis

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Abdominal Pain

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Banting J, Meriano T. 15(1). 118 - 122. (Journal Article)

Abstract

The series objective is to review various clinical conditions/ presentations, including the latest evidence on management, and to dispel common myths. In the process, core knowledge and management principles are enhanced. A clinical case will be presented. Cases will be drawn from real life but phrased in a context that is applicable to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) or tactical emergency medical support (TEMS) environment. Details will be presented in such a way that the reader can follow along and identify how they would manage the case clinically depending on their experience and environment situation. Commentary will be provided by currently serving military medical technicians. The medics and author will draw on their SOF experience to communicate relevant clinical concepts pertinent to different operational environments including SOF and TEMS. Commentary and input from active special operations medical technicians will be part of the feature.

Keywords: pain; abdominal pain; appendicitis; diagnosis; treatment

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The Importance of Physical Fitness for Injury Prevention: Part 1

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Knapik JJ. 15(1). 123 - 127. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Physical fitness can be defined as a set of attributes that allows the ability to perform physical activity. The attributes or components of fitness were identified by testing large numbers of individuals on physical performance tests (e.g., sit-ups, push-ups, runs, pull-ups, rope climbs, vertical jump, long jumps), and using statistical techniques to find tests that seem to share common performance requirements. These studies identified strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, coordination, balance, flexibility, and body composition as important fitness components. Military studies have clearly shown that individuals with lower levels of cardiorespiratory endurance or muscular endurance are more likely to be injured and that improving fitness lowers injury risk. Those who are more fit perform activity at a lower percentage of their maximal capability and so can perform the task for a longer period of time, fatigue less rapidly, recover faster, and have greater reserve capacity for subsequent tasks. Fatigue alters movement patterns, putting stress on parts of the body unaccustomed to it, possibly increasing the likelihood of injury. Soldiers should develop and maintain high levels of physical fitness, not only for optimal performance of occupational tasks but also to reduce injury risk.

Keywords: physical fitness; injury prevention; activity; stress; cardiorespiratory endurance; injuries; muscular endurance

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Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

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Burnett MW. 15(1). 128 - 129. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is the most common form of leishmaniasis, which also appears in mucosal and visceral forms. It is a disease found worldwide, caused by an intracellular protozoan parasite of which there are more than 20 different species. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected, female, phlebotomine sand fly, causing skin lesions that can appear weeks to years after a bite. A typical lesion will start out in a papular form, progressing to a nodular plaque and, eventually, to a persistent ulcerative lesion. Special Operations Forces medical providers should be aware of this disease, which must be in the differential diagnosis of a patient who has lived in endemic areas and who has a persistent skin lesion nonresponsive to typical therapies.

Keywords: leishmaniasis; parasitic disease

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Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World

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Farr W. 15(1). 130 - 130. (Book Review)

Abstract

Arquilla, John. Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher: 2011. Hardcover: 336 pages.
ISBN-10: 1566638321/ISBN-13: 978-1566638326.

"We had the benefit of walking in those shoes, so let's make it better for these guys."

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Kragh JF. 15(1). 133 - 135. (Interview)

Abstract

-The 17th Surgeon General of the United States, Dr Richard Carmona, on a Life of National Service, Including Being a Special Forces Medic

TCCC Updates: CoTCCC Meeting 3-4 February 2015 Atlanta, Georgia

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Butler FK, Cordoni L. 15(1). 136 - 141. (Classical Conference)

Abstract

Selected Meeting Highlights

TacMed Updates: Spring Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (C-TECC) Update

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Smith R, Bobko JP, Shapiro G, Hartford B, Callaway DW. 15(1). 143 - 145. (Classical Conference)

Establishing TEMS Training Standards for Patrol Officers and Initial Responders

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Pennardt A. 15(1). 146 - 146. (Journal Article)

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