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Resourcing Interventions Enhance Psychology Support Capabilities in Special Operations Forces

Myatt CA, Auzenne JW 12(4). 54 - 59 (Journal Article)

This study provides an examination of approaches to United States Government (USG) resourcing interventions on a national scale that enhance psychology support capabilities in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community. A review of Congressional legislation and resourcing trends in the form of authorizations and appropriations since 2006 demonstrates how Congress supported enhanced psychology support capabilities throughout the Armed Forces and in SOF supporting innovative command interests that address adverse affects of operations tempo behavioral effects (OTBE). The formulation of meaningful metrics to address SOFspecific command interests led to a personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO) analysis in response to findings compiled by the Preservation of the Force and Families (POTFF) Task Force. The review of PERSTEMPO data at subordinate command and unit levels enhances the capability of SOF leaders to develop policy and guidance on training and operational planning that mitigates OTBE and maximizes resourcing authorizations. A major challenge faced by the DoD is in providing behavioral healthcare that meets public and legislative demands while proving suitable and sustainable at all levels of military operations: strategic, operational, and tactical. Current legislative authorizations offer a mechanism of command advocacy for resourced multi-functional program development that enhances psychology support capabilities while reinforcing SOF readiness and performance.

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War Time Medicine on a Peace Time Mission

Reynolds S, Mclemore AN, Squires A 12(4). 60 - 71 (Journal Article)

As we realized the MEDEVAC from JTF-B was not going to happen, the words of instructors from the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center (JSOMTC) echoed through my head, "Men, pay attention to this. There will be a day when you, as Deltas, will have to sustain a patient for hours, possibly days; this is what separates you from any other medical professional in the military, so shut up and stay awake." We had heard those words every time we started a new section of Special Forces Medical Sergeants (SFMS) course. Now those words were staring right back at us in the form of the patient's friends and family. We looked at our patient in the back of that beat up truck and knew we could keep our patient alive. We had the knowledge and the equipment; we just didn't know how much longer we would have to sustain him.

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Biofeedback Self-Regulation Training to Treat Post-Concussion Headache in a Special Operations Support Soldier

Jenkins CM 12(4). 24 - 27 (Journal Article)

Biofeedback assisted self-regulation training can be an effective treatment for post-concussion headaches. The following is an example of using biofeedback assisted self-regulation training as an intervention to treat posttrauma headaches in a Special Operations Forces (SOF) support soldier. This Soldier was a 23-year-old male who had suffered a concussion while off duty four months earlier and continued to experience headache. Threemodality biofeedback (temperature, surface electromyogram and skin conduction) was used to help the patient learn to self-regulate and control his headaches. This was accomplished over four visits over two weeks. This was a compressed timeline to allow him to deploy with his unit. This form of treatment can be a viable nonmedication based option for addressing post concussion headaches for deploying Soldiers.

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Biometrics in Support of Special Forces Medical Operations

Kershner MR 12(4). 29 - 32 (Journal Article)

Recommendations on ways in which the ODA can leverage biometrics in medical operations to improve their security, improve relations with indigenous personnel, and contribute to the larger theater biometrics program.

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Forward Assessment of 79 Prehospital Battlefield Tourniquets Used in the Current War

King DR, van der Wilden GM, Kragh JF, Blackbourne LH 12(4). 33 - 38 (Journal Article)

Introduction: Battlefield tourniquet use can be lifesaving, but most reports are from hospitals with knowledge gaps remaining at the forward surgical team (FST). The quality of tourniquet applications in forward settings remain unknown. The purpose of this case series is to describe observations of tourniquet use at an FST in order to improve clinical performance. Methods: War casualties with tourniquet use presenting to an FST in Afghanistan in 2011 were observed. We identified appliers by training, device effectiveness, injury pattern, and clinical opportunities for improvement. Feedback was given to treating medics. Results: Tourniquet applications (79) were performed by special operations combat medics (47, 59%), flight medics (17, 22%), combat medics (12, 15%), and general surgeons (3, 4%). Most tourniquets were Combat Application Tourniquets (71/79, 90%). With tourniquets in place upon arrival at the FST, most limbs (83%, 54/65) had palpable distal pulses present; 17% were pulseless (11/65). Of all tourniquets, the use was venous in 83% and arterial in 17%. In total, there were 14 arterial injuries, but only 5 had effective arterial tourniquets applied. Discussion: Tourniquets are liberally applied to extremity injuries on the battlefield. 17% were arterial and 83% were venous tourniquets. When ongoing bleeding or distal pulses were appreciated, medics tightened tourniquets under surgeon supervision until distal pulses stopped. Medics were generally surprised at how tight a tourniquet must be to stop arterial flow - convert a venous tourniquet into an arterial tourniquet. Implications for sustainment training should be considered with regard to this life-saving skill.

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Addressing Maternal Healthcare Needs in the Counterinsurgency Environment

Lang G, Lang C 12(4). 39 - 44 (Journal Article)

All pregnant women are at risk of obstetric complications, most of which occur during labor and delivery among women with no previously identified risk factors. More than 95 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, a region of the world currently experiencing significant humanitarian crises, the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 30 whereas the lifetime risk in developed countries is one in 2,800.1 The majority of maternal deaths from obstetric complications are due to hemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis, or obstructed labor, each of which is treatable. Emergency obstetric care is critical to reducing maternal death and disability. SOF medical personnel supporting counterinsurgency (COIN) operations may find themselves in situations where no legitimate agencies are available to provide maternal healthcare. Similarly, SOF medical personnel should be prepared to assist in rebuilding infrastructure and basic services to include the provision for maternal health. This article provides an overview of maternal health in underdeveloped countries; the importance of addressing the unique healthcare needs of women during COIN operations; and how the employment of Female Treatment Teams (FTT) can assist in meeting these needs. A subsequent article will review the basics of prenatal care and life-saving emergency obstetric care, and discusses the essential information and skills that should be taught in a MEDSEM covering maternal healthcare.

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Case Series of Pectoralis Major Muscle Tears in Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Soldiers Diagnosed by Bedside Ultrasound

Ball V, Maskell K, Pink J 12(4). 5 - 9 (Journal Article)

Pectoralis major muscle tears are an uncommon injury although reported most prevalently among young male athletes (e.g. SOF personnel). We describe two cases occurring in Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) Soldiers, review the physical examination and sonographic findings suggestive of a high-grade injury, and discuss treatment options.

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Global Health Language and Culture Competency

Beadling C, Maza J, Nakano G, Mahmood M, Jawad S, Al-Ameri A, Zuerlein S, Anderson W 12(4). 10 - 16 (Journal Article)

This article presents findings from a survey conducted to examine the availability of foreign language and culture training to Civil Affairs health personnel and the relevance of that training to the tasks they perform. Civil Affairs forces recognize the value of cross-cultural communication competence because their missions involve a significant level of interaction with foreign governments' officials, military, and civilians. Members of the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) who had a health-related military occupational specialty code were invited to participate in the survey. More than 45% of those surveyed were foreign language qualified. Many also received predeployment language and culture training specific to the area of deployment. Significantly more respondents reported receiving cultural training and training on how to work effectively with interpreters than having received foreign language training. Respondents perceived interpreters as important assets and were generally satisfied with their performance. Findings from the survey highlight a need to identify standard requirements for predeployment language training that focuses on medical and health terminology and to determine the best delivery platform(s). Civil Affairs health personnel would benefit from additional cultural training that focuses on health and healthcare in the country or region of deployment. Investing in the development of distance learning capabilities as a platform for delivering health-specific language and culture training may help ease the time and resources constraints that limit the ability of Civil Affairs health personnel to access the training they need.

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A Novel Cryotherapy Compression Wrap in the Management of Acute Ankle Sprains: Potential Use for Special Operators on the Battlefield

Boland M, Mulligan I, Payette J, Serres J, O'Hara R, Maupin G 12(4). 17 - 23 (Journal Article)

Objective: Musculoskeletal injuries related to training and operational missions frequently affect military personnel. A common treatment for these injuries is the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method, which is time consuming and impractical in the field. Therefore, the primary objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the cryotherapy wrap compared to a traditional treatment in the management of acute ankle sprains. Methods: A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted in a university research laboratory with 13 subjects (9 males and 4 females) with the following physical characteristics: age (yr) 20.6 ± 2.2, height (cm) 177.0 ± 14.3, weight (kg) 76.6 ± 20.6, and body mass index (kg/m2) 24.1 ± 3.7. Participants were instructed to perform PRICE with a traditional ice pack and compression wrap (control group) or with an Arctic Ease® cryotherapy wrap (test group) for 48 hours following enrollment in the study. The Numeric Pain Scale, Foot and Ankle Ability Measure, and ankle/foot volumetric measurement were performed at initial presentation and 24-hour, 48-hour, and 7-day follow-up intervals. Results: While the comparison of the Numeric Pain Scale scores, Foot and Ankle Ability Measure scores, and volumetric changes between groups revealed no statistically significant differences (ρ > 0.01), there was an 86% compliance rate for subjects in the cryotherapy wrap group compared to a 17% compliance rate of subjects in the control group. Conclusions: The cryotherapy wraps performed comparably to ice therapy and therefore may be especially applicable to military personnel required to operate in austere and hostile environments where traditional therapies are unrealistic. Although this pilot study did not demonstrate that the cryotherapy wraps produce statistically superior results, trends emerged in the data suggesting that subject compliance rate may be improved by using an alternative form of cryotherapy compression, which could lead to better management of pain, edema, and functional recovery. Future research should include a larger sample size to verify this claim.

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Effect of Hetastarch Bolus in Trauma Patients Requiring Emergency Surgery

Ryan ML, Ogilvie MP, Pereira BM, Gomez-Rodriguez JC, Livingstone AS, Proctor KG 12(3). 57 - 67 (Journal Article)

If blood products are not available, current military guidelines recommend a hetastarch bolus (HEX, Hextend ™ 6% hetastarch in lactated electrolyte buffer, www. hospira.com) for initial treatment of hypovolemic shock in the field. We previously reported that a HEX bolus plus standard of care (SOC = crystalloid plus blood products) was safe during initial resuscitation in 1714 trauma patients. This study tests the hypothesis that HEX+SOC is more effective than SOC alone for volume expansion in trauma patients requiring urgent operation. Methods: From July 2009 to August 2010, the records from all adults who required emergency surgery within 4 hours of admission were screened for a retrospective cohort observational study. Burns, and those with primary neurosurgical or orthopedic indications, were excluded. The study population was comprised of 281 patients with blunt (n = 72) or penetrating (n = 209) trauma; 141 received SOC and 140 received SOC+HEX in the emergency room only (ER, n = 81) or the ER and operating room (OR, n = 59). Each case was reviewed with waiver of consent. Results: After penetrating injury, with SOC, the injury severity score was 17 and mortality was 12%; the corresponding values in the HEX(ER) and HEX(OR) groups were 19-21 and 8%, but these apparent differences did not reach significance. However, in patients receiving HEX, initial heart rate was higher, base deficit was lower, and hematocrit was lower (consistent with relative hypovolemia), even though blood product requirements were reduced, and urine output was greater (all ρ < 0.05). These effects were absent in patients with blunt trauma. Platelet consumption was higher with HEX after either penetrating (ρ = 0.004) or blunt trauma (ρ = 0.045), but coagulation tests were unchanged. Conclusion: HEX is safe for initial resuscitation in young patients who required urgent operation after penetrating trauma, but there was no apparent effect after blunt trauma. A bolus of HEX reduced transfusion requirements without inducing coagulopathy or causing renal dysfunction, but a randomized controlled trial is necessary to eliminate the possibility of selection bias.

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Lighting Did Not Affect Self-application of a Stretch and Wrap Style Tourniquet

Wall PL, Welander JD, Sahr SM, Buising CM 12(3). 68 - 73 (Journal Article)

The objective was to determine the effects of darkness on self-application of a stretch and wrap style tourniquet. Methods: Following training and practice, 15 volunteers self-applied the Stretch, Wrap, and Tuck-Tourniquet (SWAT-T) to their leg, thigh, dominant forearm, and dominate arm. Proper application in lighted conditions was followed by the same applications in darkness. Proper stretch was determined by alteration of shapes printed on the tourniquet. Results: High rates of proper application and successful arterial occlusion (60 second Doppler signal elimination) occurred in darkness just as in lighted conditions (darkness: 56 proper and 60 successful of 60 applications, lighted: 57 proper and 53 successful of 60 applications). Lighting did not affect ease of application or discomfort. Males (8) and females (7) were similarly successful. Lower limb applications were predominantly rated easy (51 of 60). Upper limb applications had fewer easy ratings (15 easy, 32 challenging, 13 difficult ratings). Arterial occlusion took < 60 seconds in 112 of 113 successful applications; completion took < 60 seconds in 88 of all 120 applications. Upper limb applications took longer for completion. Conclusions: The SWAT-T stretch and wrap style tourniquet can be self-applied properly even in darkness. When properly applied, it can stop limb arterial flow.

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Atrial Fibrillation with Rapid Ventricular Response following use of Dietary Supplement Containing 1,3 Dimethylamylamine and Caffeine

Armstrong M 12(4). 1 - 4 (Journal Article)

Our nation's servicemembers commonly use dietary supplements to enhance their performance. Despite this prolific use, many of these products have detrimental side-effects that compromise servicemembers' health and could, by proxy, compromise a mission. This paper presents the case of a 32-year old Navy Special Operations Forces (SOF) Sailor who, prior to physical training, used a supplement containing 1,3 Dimethylamylamine (DMAA), and then developed atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. He required intravenous calcium channel blocker administration, followed by beta blockers, for rate control. As military providers, we routinely ask our patients about their use of supplements and while the regulation of these products is beyond the scope of practice for most of us, it is our duty to become better educated about the risks and benefits of these supplements. We must educate our patients and our commands on the potential harm that these supplements may pose.

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Unforeseen Risk: Leptospirosis and the U.S. Special Operations Community

Grambusch DM, Hoedebecke KL 12(3). 36 - 42 (Journal Article)

Leptospirosis is a bacterial zoonosis with worldwide distribution and is potentially lethal to those infected if left untreated. Due to the global posture of the U.S. Special Operations community, there is a seemingly perfect overlap of the regions in which they deploy and areas with concurrent endemic leptospirosis infection. Furthermore, Special Operations Forces (SOF) personel are known for working by, with, and through the host nation defense force, who tend to be commonly affected and often serve as a reservoir for this infection. Other risk factors including the usage of infected military working dogs, contaminated training sites, and certain recreational activities associated with water increase the danger of exposure for this cohort. Due to this increased risk of leptospirosis by U.S. Special Operations service members, medical providers within this community must understand and utilize proper preventive medicine, prophylaxis, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment for this potentially lethal infection.

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Tactical Physical Preparation: The Case for a Movement-Based Approach

Kechijian D, Rush SC 12(3). 43 - 49 (Journal Article)

Progressive injury prevention and physical preparation programs are needed in military special operations to optimize mission success and Operator quality of life and longevity. While physical risk is inherent in Special Operations, non-traumatic injuries resulting from overuse, poor biomechanics, and arbitrary exercise selection can be alleviated with proper medical care and patient education. An integrated approach to physical readiness that recognizes the continuity between rehabilitation and performance training is advocated to ensure that physiological adaptations do not come at the expense of orthopedic health or movement proficiency. Movement quality should be regularly evaluated and enforced throughout the training process to minimize preventable injuries and avoid undermining previous rehabilitative care. While fitness and proper movement are not substitutes for Operator specific tasks, they are foundational to many tactically-relevant skills. In light of how much is at stake, sports medicine care in the military, especially special operations, should parallel that which is practiced in professional and collegiate athletics.

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Exertional Rhabdomyolysis: Attrition Through Exercise, A Case Series and Review of the Literature

Reese JM, Fisher SD, Robbins DP 12(3). 52 - 56 (Journal Article)

Rhabdomyolysis is a common syndrome that can range from asymptomatic to a severe life-threatening condition. It is the result of acute muscle fiber necrosis leading to cell lysis and subsequent transfer of those byproducts into the circulatory system. The most significant constituent of these byproducts is myoglobin, which has been known to cause renal failure in 10-50% of patients that develop rhabdomyolysis. In addition, the electrolytes contained within these cells are leached into the blood stream, which can lead to significant electrolyte abnormalities. The etiology of rhabdomyolysis is broad and includes inherited diseases, drugs, toxins, muscle compression or overexertion, infections, and more. This syndrome may carry a mortality rate ranging from 7-80%. We describe five patients assigned to various companies within 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) that developed exertional rhabdomyolysis of the bilateral upper extremities between June 2011 and January 2012. In this case series we will describe the events leading up to the diagnosis, lack of risk factors or family history, diagnostic criteria, treatment, and future concerns related to the condition.

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10 Years of SOF Rotary Wing CASEVAC Missions, Training and Equipment: A Retrospective View from the 160th SOAR (A)

Faudree LK 12(3). 14 - 18 (Journal Article)

On 3 October 2001, the first chalk of Night Stalkers left Campbell Army Airfield enroute to Uzbekistan in support of what would become our nation's longest war. The vast majority of Soldiers were untested in war and would quickly have the opportunity to meet with the enemies of our nation in close combat. The two Special Operations Task Forces (TF), TF Dagger to the north in Uzbekistan and TF Sword in the south (aboard the USS Kitty Hawk) were our nation's first strike options against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Due to the inherent nature of forced entry operations (restrictive terrain, lack of medical infrastructure, etc.) TF Dagger and TF Sword utilized 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) [SOAR (A)] rotary wing aircraft solely for the Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) operations during the first months of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

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Detection of Increased Intracranial Pressure by Ultrasound

Hightower S, Chin EJ, Heiner JD 12(3). 19 - 22 (Journal Article)

Increases in intracranial pressure (ICP) may damage the brain by compression of its structures or restriction of its blood flow, and medical providers my encounter elevated ICP in conventional and non-conventional medical settings. Early identification of elevated ICP is critical to ensuring timely and appropriate management. However, few diagnostic methods are available for detecting increased ICP in an acutely ill patient, which can be performed quickly and noninvasively at the bedside. The optic nerve sheath is a continuation of the dura mater of the central nervous system and can be viewed by ocular ultrasound. Pressure changes within the intracranial cavity affect the diameter of the optic nerve sheath. Data acquired from multiple clinical settings suggest that millimetric increases in the optic nerve sheath diameter detected via ocular ultrasound correlate with increasing levels of ICP. In this review, we discuss the use of ocular ultrasound to evaluate for the presence of elevated ICP via assessment of optic nerve sheath diameter, and describe critical aspects of this valuable diagnostic procedure. Ultrasound is increasingly becoming a medical fixture in the modern battlefield where other diagnostic modalities can be unavailable or impractical to employ. As Special Forces and other austere medical providers become increasingly familiar with ultrasound, ocular ultrasound for the assessment of increased intracranial pressure may help optimize their ability to provide the most effective medical management for their patients.

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Special Operations Forces and Incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

Hing M, Cabrera J, Barstow C, Forsten RD 12(3). 23 - 35 (Journal Article)

To determine the rates of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) positive symptom scores in Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel, an anonymous survey of SOF was employed, incorporating the PTSD Checklist (PCLM) with both demographic and deployment data. Results indicate that all SOF units studied scored above the accepted cut-offs for PTSD positive screening.1 When total symptom severity score exceeded established cutoff points and were combined with criteria for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Edition 4 (DSM-IV) diagnosis of PTSD,2 approximately 16-20% of respondents met scoring threshold for positive screening, almost double those of conventional Army units. Collectively, Special Forces (SF) Soldiers and SOF combat- arms Soldiers had significantly higher PLC-M scores than their non-combat-arms SOF counterparts. SOF Soldiers with three or more deployments to Afghanistan had significantly higher PCL-M scores. Considering the evidence suggesting that SOF Soldiers are hyper-resilient to stress, these results should drive further research schemata and challenge clinical assumptions of PTSD within Special Operations.

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A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study to Define Optimal Needle Length for Humeral Head IO Devices

Rush SC, Bremer J, Foresto C, Rubin AM, Anderson PI 12(2). 77 - 82 (Journal Article)

Introduction: Intraosseous (IO) devices have gained popularity because of TCCC. The ability to gain access to the vascular system when intra venous access is not possible, and techniques such as central lines or cut-downs are beyond the scope of battlefield providers and tactically not feasible, has lead to the increased use of IO access. Since tibias are often not available sites in blast injury patients, the sternum was often used. Recently the humeral head has gained popularity because of ease of access and placement. The optimal needle length has not been defined or studied. Methods and Materials: Fifty consecutive shoulder MRIs among 18-40 year old patients were reviewed. Distances from the skin surface to the cortex from anterior and lateral trajectories were simulated and measured. Two different lateral trajectories were studied described as lateral minimum and lateral maximum trajectories, correlating with seemingly less and greater soft tissue. The cortical thickness was also recorded. Mean values and ranges for the measurements were determined. Results: The anterior trajectory represented the shortest distance. Mean anterior, mean lateral minimum and mean lateral maximum distances were 2.3, 3.0 and 4.7cm with corresponding ranges of 1.1-4.1, 1.6-5.7 and 2.8-7.4cm respectively. The cortical thickness was 4mm in all cases. Conclusions: Although this information was gathered amongst civilians, and many military members may have more soft tissue, these results indicate that needle length generally in the 40-50mm range should be used via the anterior approach. Use of a standard 25mm needle often used in the tibia would be inadequate in over half the cases, and may result in undue tissue compression or distortion.

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