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Comprehensive Performance Nutrition for Special Operations Forces

Daigle KA, Logan CM, Kotwal RS 15(4). 40 - 53 (Journal Article)

Special Operations Forces (SOF) training, combat, and contingency operations are unique and demanding. Performance nutrition within the Department of Defense has emphasized that nutrition is relative to factors related to the desired outcome, which includes successful performance of mentally and physically demanding operations and missions of tactical and strategic importance, as well as nonoperational assignments. Discussed are operational, nonoperational, and patient categories that require different nutrition strategies to facilitate category-specific performance outcomes. Also presented are 10 major guidelines for a SOF comprehensive performance nutrition program, practical nutrition recommendations for Special Operators and medical providers, as well as resources for dietary supplement evaluation. Foundational health concepts, medical treatment, and task-specific performance factors should be considered when developing and systematically implementing a comprehensive SOF performance nutrition program. When tailored to organizational requirements, SOF unit- and culture-specific nutrition education and services can optimize individual Special Operator performance, overall unit readiness, and ultimately, mission success.

Hypolipidemia in a Special Operations Candidate: Case Report and Review of the Literature

Strain JE, Vigilante JA, DiGeorge NW 15(4). 1 - 5 (Journal Article)

Background: A 19-year-old male military recruit who presented for a screening physical for US Naval Special Warfare Duty was found to have hypolipidemia. Medical history revealed mildly increased frequency of bowel movements, but was otherwise unremarkable. His presentation was most consistent with heterozygous familial hypobetalipoproteinemia (FHBL), and the patient was cleared for Special Operations duty. Methods: A literature search was conducted using PubMed/MEDLINE. Keywords included familial hypobetalipoproteinemia, heterozygous familial hypobetalipoproteinemia, abetalipoproteinemia, hypolipidemia, diving, special operations, and military. Results that included cases of familial hypobetalipoproteinemia were included. Results: Review of the literature reveals that FHBL is a genetic disorder frequently, but not always, due to a mutation in the apolipoprotein B (apoB) gene. Those with the condition should be screened for ophthalmologic, neurologic, and gastrointestinal complications. Analysis of the disease, as well as the absence of reported cases of FHBL in diving and Special Operations, suggest there is minimal increased risk in diving and Special Operations for patients who are likely heterozygous, are asymptomatic, and have a negative workup for potential complications from the disease. Conclusion: Individuals with presumed or proven heterozygous FHBL seeking clearance for Special Operations duty should be given precautions, undergo careful questioning for history of disease-specific complications, and should have a baseline evaluation. If negative, it seems reasonable to clear the patient for Special Operations and diving.

Testing Tourniquet Use in a Manikin Model: Two Improvised Techniques

Lyles WE, Kragh JF, Aden JK, Dubick MA 15(4). 21 - 26 (Journal Article)

Background: Improvised tourniquets may be used to treat limb wound hemorrhage, but there is little evidence for best techniques of use. The purpose of the present study is to compare use of two techniques of improvised tourniquet application and use of a common commercial tourniquet that is nonimprovised. Methods: A laboratory experiment was conducted to assess three groups of strap-and-windlass tourniquet designs on a manikin to test for differences in performance. Groups included two types of improvised tourniquets (bandage and bandana) and a third group that served as a control, the commercial Combat Application Tourniquet. Two users performed 10 tests of each group. Results: The commercial CAT had 100% effectiveness, but both improvised tourniquets had poor effectiveness (40% and 10% for the bandage and bandana groups, respectively). The commercial CAT performed fastest; the two improvised tourniquet groups were slower than the commercial group (p < .0001, both) but were not statistically different from each other. All time-of-application results in the commercial group were less than the minimums of either improvised group. The commercial CAT had the highest mean pressures, and all such pressures were within safe and effective ranges. Low pressures generated by both improvised tourniquet groups were ineffective. All results of simulated blood loss with the commercial CAT group were less than the minimums of either improvised tourniquet group. Conclusion: In the present experiment, the commercial CAT performed better than either improvised tourniquet.

This Is Africa

Verlo AR, Bailey HH, Cook MR 15(3). 114 - 119 (Journal Article)

Military deployments will always result in exposure to health hazards other than those from combat operations. The occupational and environmental health and endemic disease health risks are greater to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) deployed to the challenging conditions in Africa than elsewhere in the world. SOF are deployed to locations that lack life support infrastructures that have become standard for most military deployments; instead, they rely on local resources to sustain operations. Particularly, SOF in Africa do not generally have access to advanced diagnostic or monitoring capabilities or to medical treatment in austere locations that lack environmental or public health regulation. The keys to managing potential adverse health effects lie in identifying and documenting the health hazards and exposures, characterizing the associated risks, and communicating the risks to commanders, deployed personnel, and operational planners.

Public Access Hemorrhage Control and the Stop the Bleeding Coalition

Levy MJ 15(3). 126 - 128 (Journal Article)

Rabies: 2015 Update

Burnett MW 15(3). 105 - 107 (Journal Article)

Rabies is an almost universally fatal viral disease transmitted to humans primarily by bites and scratches from infected animals, and less commonly through other routes, including transplantation of infected organs, exposure to infected neural tissue, and possibly through airborne and aerosolized routes. This disease is endemic to all continents worldwide except Antarctica, and only a few islands elsewhere can be considered "rabies free." Special Operations Forces medical providers should be aware of this disease. Prevention and recognition of risk are key due to its extreme lethality.

Extreme Conditioning Programs: Potential Benefits and Potential Risks

Knapik JJ 15(3). 108 - 113 (Journal Article)

CrossFit, Insanity, Gym Jones, and P90X are examples of extreme conditioning programs (ECPs). ECPs typically involve high-volume and high-intensity physical activities with short rest periods between movements and use of multiple joint exercises. Data on changes in fitness with ECPs are limited to CrossFit investigations that demonstrated improvements in muscle strength, muscular endurance, aerobic fitness, and body composition. However, no study has directly compared Cross-Fit or other ECPs to other more traditional forms of aerobic and resistance training within the same investigation. These direct comparisons are needed to more adequately evaluate the effectiveness of ECPs. Until these studies emerge, the comparisons with available literature suggest that improvements in CrossFit, in terms of muscular endurance (push-ups, sit-ups), strength, and aerobic capacity, appear to be similar to those seen in more traditional training programs. Investigations of injuries in ECPs are limited to two observational studies that suggest that the overall injury rate is similar to that seen in other exercise programs. Several cases of rhabdomyolysis and cervical carotid artery dissections have been reported during CrossFit training. The symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of these are reviewed here. Until more data on ECPs emerge, physical training should be aligned with US Army doctrine. If ECPs are included in exercise programs, trainers should (1) have appropriate training certifications, (2) inspect exercise equipment regularly to assure safety, (3) introduce ECPs to new participants, (4) ensure medical clearance of Soldiers with special health problems before participation in ECPs, (4) tailor ECPs to the individual Soldier, (5) adjust rest periods to optimize recovery and reduce fatigue, (6) monitor Soldiers for signs of overtraining, rhabdomyolysis, and other problems, and (7) coordinate exercise programs with other unit training activities to eliminate redundant activities and minimize the risk of overuse injuries.

Journal Club: Ketamine in the Emergency Department

Banting J, Beriano T 15(3). 94 - 97 (Journal Article)

In this column of Clinical Corner, we are going to switch things up a little. We are going to review a journal article that is applicable to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Medic. We plan on continuing to present clinically relevant cases, but every so often an article is published that we simply must take a deeper look at.

Androgens and Androgen Derivatives: Science, Myths, and Theories. Explored From a Special Operations Perspective

Givens ML, Deuster PA 15(3). 98 - 104 (Journal Article)

Androgen use outside of legitimate medical therapy is a perceived concern that is drawing attention across military and specifically Special Operations Forces (SOF) communities. For leadership and the medical community to properly address the issue and relate to those individuals who are using or considering use, it will be crucial to understand the scope of the problem. Limited data suggest that the prevalence of androgen use may be increasing, and inferences made from the scientific literature suggest that SOF may be a population of concern. While risks of androgen use are well known, there are little data specific to military performance that can be applied to a rigorous risk:benefit analysis, allowing myths and poorly supported theories to perpetuate within the community. Further efforts to define the potential benefits balanced against the short- and longterm risks should be undertaken. Providers within the SOF community should arm themselves with information to engage androgen users and leadership in meaningful discussion regarding androgen use.

Tourniquet Conversion: A Recommended Approach in the Prolonged Field Care Setting

Drew B, Bird D, Matteucci M, Keenan S 15(3). 81 - 85 (Journal Article)

Life-saving interventions take precedence over diagnostic maneuvers in the Care Under Fire stage of Tactical Combat Casualty Care. The immediate threat to life with an actively hemorrhaging extremity injury is addressed with the liberal and proper use of tourniquets. The emphasis on hemorrhage control has and will continue to result in the application of tourniquets that may not be needed past the Care Under Fire stage. As soon as tactically allowable, all tourniquets must be reassessed for conversion. Reassessment of all tourniquets should occur as soon as the tactical situation permits, but no more than 2 hours after initial placement. This article describes a procedure for qualified and trained medical personnel to safely convert extremity tourniquets to local wound dressings, using a systematic process in the field setting.

Care of the Burn Casualty in the Prolonged Field Care Environment

Studer NM, Driscoll IR, Daly IM, Graybill JC 15(3). 86 - 93 (Journal Article)

Burns are frequently encountered on the modern battlefield, with 5% - 20% of combat casualties expected to sustain some burn injury. Addressing immediate lifethreatening conditions in accordance with the MARCH protocol (massive hemorrhage, airway, respirations, circulation, hypothermia/head injury) remains the top priority for burn casualties. Stopping the burning process, total burn surface area (TBSA) calculation, fluid resuscitation, covering the wounds, and hypothermia management are the next steps. If transport to definitive care is delayed and the prolonged field care stage is entered, the provider must be prepared to provide for the complex resuscitation and wound care needs of a critically ill burn casualty.

Resuscitation During Critical Care Transportation in Afghanistan

Tobin JM, Nordmann GR, Kuncir EJ 15(3). 72 - 75 (Journal Article)

Objective: These data describe the critical care procedures performed on, and the resuscitation markers of, critically wounded personnel in Afghanistan following point of injury (POI) transports and intratheater transports. Providing this information may help inform discussion on the design of critical care transportation platforms for future conflicts. Methods: The Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DoDTR) was queried for descriptive data on combat casualties with Injury Severity Score (ISS) greater than 15 who were transported in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2010. Both POI transportation events and interfacility transportation events were reviewed. Base deficit (BD) was evaluated as a maker of resuscitation, and international normalized ratio (INR) was evaluated as a measure of coagulopathy. Results: There were 1198 transportation events that occurred during the study period - 634 (53%) transports from the POI and 564 (47%) intratheater transports. Critical care interventions were performed during 147 (12.3%) transportation events, including intubation, cricothyrotomy, double-lumen endotracheal tube placement, needle or tube thoracostomy, central venous access placement, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The mean BD on arrival in the emergency department was -5.4 mEq/L for POI transports and 0.68 mEq/L intratheater transports (ρ < .001). The mean INR on arrival in the emergency department was 1.48 for POI transports and 1.21 for intratheater transports (ρ < .001). Conclusions: Critical care interventions were needed frequently during evacuation of severely injured personnel. Furthermore, many troops arrived acidotic and coagulopathic following initial transport from POI. Together, these data suggest that a platform capable of damage control resuscitation and critical care interventions may be warranted on longer transports of more critically injured patients.

What Is the Optimal Device Length and Insertion Site for Needle Thoracostomy in UK Military Casualties? A Computed Tomography Study

Blenkinsop G, Mossadegh S, Ballard M, Parker P 15(3). 60 - 65 (Journal Article)

Significant lessons to inform best practice in trauma care should be learned from the last decade of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. This study used radiological data collated in the UK Military Hospital in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, to investigate the most appropriate device length for needle chest decompression of tension pneumothorax (TP). We reviewed the optimal length of device and site needed for needle decompression of a tension pneumothorax in a UK military population and found no significant difference between sites for needle chest decompression (NCD). As a result, we do not recommend use of devices longer than 60mm for UK service personnel.

Associations Among Back and Extremity Pain With Alcohol, Tobacco, and Caffeine Use Among US Air Force Pararescuemen

Bryan CJ, Wolfe AL, Morrow CE, Stephenson JA, Haskell J, Bryan AO 15(3). 66 - 71 (Journal Article)

Background: Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol are the most widely used substances globally, but the majority of research on the associations among legal substance use and physical health has focused on the general population, not elite military personnel. The purpose of the current study was to describe patterns of tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine use and to examine the relationship of legal substance use with self-reported physical health complaints among US Air Force Pararescuemen (PJs) and Combat Rescue Officers (CROs). Methods: Participants were 196 US PJs and CROs. Participants completed self-report measures of legal drug use and somatic symptoms. Generalized linear modeling with robust maximum likelihood estimation was used for multivariate regression analyses. Chi-square analyses were conducted for univariate comparisons of categorical variables. Results: Reported rates of tobacco use (28.2%), alcohol consumption (83.2%), and regular caffeine consumption (88.8%) were similar to the general population. Daily caffeine intake was significantly higher among participants reporting they were bothered a lot by back pain [Wald χ²(2) = 11.39; ρ = .003] and extremity pain [Wald χ²(2) = 11.39; ρ = .003], even when controlling for age and deployment history. Participants with severe extremity pain also reported drinking approximately twice as many alcoholic beverages per week (mean, 5.46; standard error [SE], 0.91) than participants who were bothered a little (mean, 2.88; SE, 0.54) or not bothered at all (mean, 2.88; SE, 0.52) by extremity pain. Conclusion: Back and extremity pain is associated with greater caffeine and alcohol consumption among PJs.

The Ranger First Responder Program and Tactical Emergency Casualty Care Implementation: A Whole-Community Approach to Reducing Mortality From Active Violent Incidents

Fisher AD, Callaway DW, Robertson JN, Hardwick SA, Bobko JP, Kotwal RS 15(3). 46 - 53 (Journal Article)

Active violent incidents are dynamic and challenging situations that can produce a significant amount of preventable deaths. Lessons learned from the military's experience in Afghanistan and Iraq through the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care and the 75th Ranger Regiment's Ranger First Responder Program have helped create the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (C-TECC) to address the uniqueness of similar wounding patterns and to end preventable deaths. We propose a whole-community approach to active violent incidents, using the C-TECC Trauma Chain of Survival and a tiered approach for training and responsibilities: the first care provider, nonmedical professional first responders, medical first responders, and physicians and trauma surgeons. The different tiers are critical early links in the Chain of Survival and this approach will have a significant impact on active violent incidents.

Kitona 2013: A Medical Readiness Training Exercise in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Leading to Lion Rouge

Hesse E, Okito EA, Mann K, McCullough M, Lesho E 15(3). 54 - 59 (Journal Article)

Background: Health initiatives support regional stability and are a priority for US and African partners. We present data and experience from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a strategically and epidemiologically ideal location for collaborative medical engagement (CME). Our objectives included relationship building, exposure of US military medical personnel to uncommon tropical diseases, bolstering a referral hospital, and updating Congolese physicians on new treatment or preventive standards of care. Methods: We conducted a CMEstyled medical readiness training exercise (MEDRETE) at the Military Referral Hospital of Kitona in June 2013. US and Congolese healthcare providers presented 20 lectures and evaluated 158 patients collaboratively; 132 for infections. Results: The CME led to Lion Rouge, the first joint military, multidisciplinary engagement between the respective militaries. Equally noteworthy is that some of the same participants returned to the same location for the follow-on exercise, providing continuity. Conclusion: These outcomes suggest the MEDRETE and CME approaches were successful.

The Operational Canine and K9 Tactical Emergency Casualty Care Initiative

Palmer LE, Maricle R, Brenner J 15(3). 32 - 38 (Journal Article)

Background: Approximately 20% to 25% of traumarelated, prehospital fatalities in humans are due to preventable deaths. Data are lacking, however, on the nature and the prevalence of operational canine (OC) prehospital deaths. It is plausible that OCs engaged in high-threat operations are also at risk for suffering some type of preventable death. Tactical Combat Casualty Care has significantly reduced human fatality rates on the battlefield. Standardized guidelines specifically for prehospital trauma care have not been developed for the OC caregiver. An initiation has been approved by the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care to form a K9-Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) working group to develop such guidelines. Significance: The intent of the K9-TECC initiative is to form best practice recommendations for the civilian high-risk OC caregiver. These recommendations are to focus on interventions that (1) eliminate the major causes of canine out-of-hospital preventable deaths, (2) are easily learned and applied by any civilian first responder, and (2) minimize resource consumption.

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