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The Sole Provider: Preparation for Deployment to a Medically Austere Theater

Corso P, Mandry C, Reynolds S 17(2). 74 - 81 (Journal Article)

The combat focus of the US Military over the past 15 years has primarily centered on the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation (AOs). Thus, much human and financial capital has been dedicated to the creation of a robust medical infrastructure to support those operations. However, Special Operation Forces (SOF) are often called upon to deploy in much more medically austere AOs. SOF medical providers operating in such environments face significant challenges due to the diversity of medical threats, extremely limited access to medical resupply, a material shortage of casualty evacuation platforms, lack of medical facilities, and limited access to higher-level care providers. This article highlights the challenges faced during a recent Special Forces deployment to such an austere environment. Many of these challenges can be mitigated with a specific approach to premission training and preparation.

Albumin for Prehospital Fluid Resuscitation of Hemorrhagic Shock in Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Studer NM, April MD, Bowling F, Danielson PD, Cap AP 17(2). 82 - 88 (Journal Article)

Optimal fluid resuscitation on the battlefield in the absence of blood products remains unclear. Contemporary Combat medics are generally limited to hydroxyethyl starch or crystalloid solutions, both of which present significant drawbacks. Obtaining US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved freeze-dried plasma (FDP) is a top casualty care research priority for the US Military. Interest in this agent reflects a desire to simultaneously expand intravascular volume and address coagulopathy. The history of FDP dates to the Second World War, when American expeditionary forces used this agent frequently. Also fielded was 25% albumin, an agent that lacks coagulation factors but offers impressive volume expansion with minimal weight to carry and requires no reconstitution in the field. The current potential value of 25% albumin is largely overlooked. Although FDP presents an attractive future option for battlefield prehospital fluid resuscitation once FDA approved, this article argues that in the interim, 25% albumin, augmented with fibrinogen concentrate and tranexamic acid to mitigate hemodilution effects on coagulation capacity, offers an effective volume resuscitation alternative that could save lives on the battlefield immediately.

Rapid Vision Correction by Special Operations Forces

Reynolds ME 17(2). 60 - 64 (Journal Article)

Background: This report describes a rapid method of vision correction used by Special Operations Medics in multiple operational engagements. Methods: Between 2011 and 2015, Special Operations Medics used an algorithm- driven refraction technique. A standard block of instruction was provided to the medics, along with a packaged kit. The technique was used in multiple operational engagements with host nation military and civilians. Data collected for program evaluation were later analyzed to assess the utility of the technique. Results: Glasses were distributed to 230 patients with complaints of either decreased distance or near (reading). Most patients (84%) with distance complaints achieved corrected binocular vision of 20/40 or better, and 97% of patients with near-vision complaints achieved corrected near-binocular vision of 20/40 or better. There was no statistically significant difference between the percentages of patients achieving 20/40 when medics used the technique under direct supervision versus independent use. Conclusion: A basic refraction technique using a designed kit allows for meaningful improvement in distance and/or near vision at austere locations. Special Operations Medics can leverage this approach after specific training with minimal time commitment. It can serve as a rapid, effective intervention with multiple applications in diverse operational environments.

The Role I Resuscitation Team and Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta

Fisher AD, Teeter WA, Cordova CB, Brenner ML, Szczepanski MP, Miles EA, Galante JM, DuBose JJ, Rasmussen TE 17(2). 65 - 73 (Journal Article)

The medical advancements made during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in an unprecedented survival rate, yet there is still a significant number of deaths that were potentially survivable. Additionally, the ability to deliver casualties to definitive surgical care within the "golden hour" is diminishing in many areas of conflict. Resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) has been implemented successfully in the hospital setting. REBOA may be a possible adjunct for the Role I and point-of-injury (POI) care to provide temporary control of noncompressible torso hemorrhage (NCTH) and junctional hemorrhage. Here the authors advocate for the development of the Role I Resuscitation Team (RT) and a training pathway to meet the challenge of the changing battlefield

Foreign Language Short Course: Special Operations Clinical Research Fundamentals

Kemplin KR, Bowling F 17(2). 12 - 17 (Journal Article)

When we do not know a language, we are at the mercy of an interpreter. The same is true for research: Special Operations Forces (SOF) clinicians not actively involved in research initiatives may rely on scientific interpreters, so it is important to speak some of the language personally. For any clinician, using evidence in practice requires a working knowledge of how that evidence was generated from research, which requires an understanding of research science language. Here we review common basics of research science to reinforce concepts and elements of experimental and nonexperimental research.

Assessment of Trainer Skill to Control Groin-Wound Bleeding: Use of Junctional Tourniquet Models on a Manikin

Kragh JF, Aden JK, Shackelford S, Moore VK, Dubick MA 17(2). 39 - 48 (Journal Article)

Background: The purpose of this study was to assess the skills of trainers using different junctional tourniquet models to control groin bleeding in a manikin. Materials and Methods: In 204 assessments, 17 trainers used four junctional tourniquet models three times each to control simulated hemorrhage. The models included the Combat Ready Clamp (CRoC), Junctional Emergency Treatment Tool (JETT), Abdominal Aortic and Junctional Tourniquet (AAJT), and SAM Junctional Tourniquet (SJT). The criteria of assessment included effectiveness (i.e., control [yes-no]), time to stop bleeding, total blood loss, and bleeding rate. Results: All uses were effective. By model, the results of mean blood loss and time to stop bleeding were different with varying levels of statistical significance: control was worst with the JETT and AAJT, moderate with the AAJT and SJT, and best with the SJT and CRoC. The means sharing a level were not significantly different, but a mean in more than one level was not different from itself. The composite outcome results were 90% good for CRoC and 67% good for JETT, whereas results for the SJT and AAJT were in between, and only the result of the CROC and JETT comparison was significant. The ease of use varied significantly; JETT was more difficult to use and all others were easier. The analysis attributed to the users 19% of the variance of results for time, 44% for blood loss volume, and 67% for bleeding rate. Most users preferred the SJT (53% before and 70% after assessment). Conclusion: Effectiveness was attained by all users with each of the four models of junctional tourniquet. The analysis demonstrated that up to 67% of the variance of performance results could be attributed to the users.

A Prospective Randomized Controlled Two-Arm Clinical Study Evaluating the Efficacy of a Bioelectric Dressing System for Blister Management in US Army Ranger Recruits

Housler GJ, Cross S, Marcel V, Kennedy DO, Husband M, Register A, Roberts T, Grubbs S, Dudewicz D, Setka n, Bay C, Wendelken ME, Izadjoo MJ 17(2). 49 - 58 (Journal Article)

This study focused on a clinically relevant healthcare problem in the military: acute soft tissue wounds, or blisters. The trial was a prospective, controlled, randomized two-arm study evaluating the efficacy of a bioelectric dressing, Procellera®, applied topically two to three times per week for 2 weeks to blisters developed in Ranger trainees during training at Fort Benning, Georgia. A total of 80 US Army Ranger recruits with blister wounds below the knee were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups (n = 40/group). The primary goal was to assess the clinical efficacy (rate of healing) of administered Procellera in conjunction with the standard-of-care (SOC) treatment, moleskin and Tegaderm ®, on the healing rate of blisters compared with the SOC treatment alone. The secondary end points for efficacy were the quantities of wound fluid biomarkers and bacterial bioburden. The tertiary end point was assessment of pain in the treatment group compared with that of the control group during the 2-week study. The results showed no statistical difference between the SOC and SOC+Procellera groups in wound healing and pain. Wound fluid was reported for 24 participants (64.9%) in the SOC group and 21 participants (56.8%) in SOC+Procellera group at the baseline measurement (ρ = .475); however, the wounds were devoid of fluid on follow-up visits. The mild nature of the wounds in this study was apparent by the low pain scores at the beginning of the study, which disappeared by the follow-up visits. The average wound sizes were 2.2cm2 and 1.5cm2 for the SOC and SOC+Procellera groups, respectively. This trial protocol should be conducted on open softtissue wounds in severe heat. To our knowledge, this is the first clinical study conducted within the US Army Rangers training doctrine.

Review of 54 Cases of Prolonged Field Care

DeSoucy E, Shackelford S, DuBose JJ, Zweben S, Rush SC, Kotwal RS, Montgomery HR, Keenan S 17(1). 121 - 129 (Journal Article)

Background: Prolonged field care (PFC) is field medical care applied beyond doctrinal planning time-lines. As current and future medical operations must include deliberate and contingency planning for such events, data are lacking to support efforts. A case review was conducted to define the epidemiology, environment, and operational factors that affect PFC outcomes. Methods: A survey distributed to US military medical providers solicited details of PFC encounters lasting more than 4 hours and included patient demographics, environmental descriptors, provider training, modes of transportation, injuries, mechanism of injury, vital signs, treatments, equipment and resources used, duration of PFC, and morbidity and mortality status on delivery to the next level of care. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze survey responses. Results: Surveys from 54 patients treated during 41 missions were analyzed. The PFC provider was on scene at time of injury or illness for 40.7% (22/54) of cases. The environment was described as remote or austere for 96.3% (52/54) of cases. Enemy activity or weather also contributed to need for PFC in 37.0% (20/54) of cases. Care was provided primarily outdoors (37.0%; 20/54) and in hardened nonmedical structures (37.0%; 20/54) with 42.6% (23/54) of cases managed in two or more locations or transport platforms. Teleconsultation was obtained in 14.8% (8/54) of cases. The prehospital time of care ranged from 4 to 120 hours (median 10 hours), and five (9.3%) patients died prior to transport to next level of care. Conclusion: PFC in the prehospital setting is a vital area of military medicine about which data are sparse. This review was a novel initial analysis of recent US military PFC experiences, with descriptive findings that should prove helpful for future efforts to include defining unique skillsets and capabilities needed to effectively respond to a variety of PFC contingencies.

Ultrasound-Guided Airway Management in the Austere Setting

Rapp J, Hampton K 17(1). 130 (Journal Article)

Graduate Medical Education in Tactical Medicine and the Impact of ACGME Accreditation of EMS Fellowships

Tang N, Levy MJ, Margolis AM, Woltman N 17(1). 101 - 104 (Journal Article)

Physician interest in tactical medicine as an area of professional practice has grown significantly over the past decade. The prevalence of physician involvement in terms of medical oversight and operational support of civilian tactical medicine has experienced tremendous growth during this timeframe. Factors contributing to this trend are multifactorial and include enhanced law enforcement agency understanding of the role of the tactical physician, support for the engagement of qualified medical oversight, increasing numbers of physicians formally trained in tactical medicine, and the ongoing escalation of intentional mass-casualty incidents worldwide. Continued vigilance for the sustenance of adequate and appropriate graduate medical education resources for physicians seeking training in the comprehensive aspects of tactical medicine is essential to ensure continued advancement of the quality of casualty care in the civilian high-threat environment.

Analgesia and Sedation Management During Prolonged Field Care

Pamplin JC, Fisher AD, Penny A, Olufs R, Rapp J, Hampton K, Riesberg J, Powell D, Keenan S, Shackelford S 17(1). 106 - 120 (Journal Article)

Meningococcal Disease

Burnett MW 17(1). 90 - 92 (Journal Article)

Load Carriage-Related Paresthesias (Part 2): Meralgia Paresthetica

Knapik JJ, Reynolds K, Orr R, Pope R 17(1). 94 - 100 (Journal Article)

This is the second of a two-part series addressing symptoms, evaluation, and treatment of load carriage- related paresthesias. Part 1 addressed rucksack palsy and digitalgia paresthetica; here, meralgia paresthetica (MP) is discussed. MP is a mononeuropathy involving the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN). MP has been reported in load carriage situations where the LFCN was compressed by rucksack hipbelts, pistol belts, parachute harnesses, and body armor. In the US military, the rate of MP is 6.2 cases/10,000 personyears. Military Servicewomen have higher rates than Servicemen, and rates increase with age, longer loadcarriage distance or duration, and higher body mass index. Patients typically present with pain, itching, and paresthesia on the anterolateral aspect of the thigh. There are no motor impairments or muscle weakness, because the LFCN is entirely sensory. Symptoms may be present on standing and/or walking, and may be relieved by adopting other postures. Clinical tests to evaluate MP include the pelvic compression test, the femoral nerve neurodynamic test, and nerve blocks using lidocaine or procaine. In cases where these clinical tests do not confirm the diagnosis, specialized tests might be considered, including somatosensory evoked potentials, sensory nerve conduction studies, high-resolution ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging. Treatment should initially be conservative. Options include identifying and removing the compression if it is external, nonsteroidal inflammatory medication, manual therapy, and/or topical treatment with capsaicin cream. Treatments for intractable cases include injection of corticosteroids or local anesthetics, pulsed radiofrequency, electroacupuncture, and surgery. Military medical care providers may see cases of MP, especially if they are involved with units that perform regular operations involving load carriage.

Basic Biostatistics and Clinical Medicine

Banting J, Meriano T 17(1). 76 (Journal Article)

Human Performance Optimization and Precision Performance: The Future of Special Operations Human Performance Efforts

Russell A, Deuster PA 17(1). 80 - 89 (Journal Article)

The Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) was launched by the White House to promote individualized medicine. Although the focus of the PMI is on curing disease, we introduce the concept of Precision Performance (P2)- advances that might "enable a new era of human performance optimization through research, technology, and policies that empower warfighters and those who support them to work together toward development of individually optimized performance" (The White House, 2015). We provide a limited review of the current state of the science in human performance optimization (HPO) and show that averages among individuals can be both misleading and potentially counterproductive. Several examples where individual differences have historically presented challenges to HPO research and application are provided, as are ideas on how such differences might be leveraged to enable new opportunities to approach the goal of individually optimized human performance. We end with a few questions likely to be of increasing importance if the notion of P2 continues to evolve and mature; we also provide limited recommendations, given this is a nascent concept. The Special Operations Forces human performance programs can move the science forward by considering and then implementing the infrastructures, processes, and approaches to best identify and exploit emerging tools for ever greater and faster P2 data collection, analyses, sharing, and applications.

Clinical Image: Visual Estimation of Blood Loss

Donham B, Frondozo R, Petro M, Reynolds A, Swisher J, Knight RM 17(1). 68 - 71 (Journal Article)

Military prehospital providers frequently have to make important clinical decisions with only limited objective information and vital signs. Because of this, accurate estimation of blood loss, at the point of injury, can augment any available objective information. Prior studies have shown that individuals significantly overestimate the amount of blood loss when the amount of hemorrhage is small, and they tend to underestimate the amount of blood loss with larger amounts of hemorrhage. Furthermore, the type of surface on which the blood is deposited can impact the visual estimation of the amount of hemorrhage. To aid providers with the ability to accurately estimate blood loss, we took several units of expired packed red blood cells and deposited them in different ways on varying surfaces to mimic the visual impression of combat casualties.

A Perspective on the Potential for Battlefield Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta

Knight RM 17(1). 72 - 75 (Journal Article)

Resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) has a place in civilian trauma centers in the United States, and British physicians performed the first prehospital REBOA, proving the concept viable for civilian emergency medical service. Can this translate into battlefield REBOA to stop junctional hemorrhage and extend "golden hour" rings in combat? If yes, at what level is this procedure best suited and what does it entail? This author's perspective, after treating patients on the battlefield and during rotary wing evacuation, is that REBOA may have a place in prehospital resuscitation but patient and provider selection are paramount. The procedure, although simple in description, is quite complicated and can cause major physiologic changes best dealt with by experienced providers. REBOA is incapable of extending the golden hour limiting the procedure's utility.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Mechanical Testing of Models of Tourniquet After Environmental Exposure

O'Conor DK, Kragh JF, Aden JK, Dubick MA 17(1). 27 - 35 (Journal Article)

Background: The purpose of the present study was to mechanically assess models of emergency tourniquet after 18 months of environmental exposure to weather to better understand risk of component damage. Materials and Methods: An experiment was designed to test tourniquet performance on a manikin thigh. Three tourniquet models were assessed: Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet Wide, Ratcheting Medical Tourniquet, and Combat Application Tourniquet. Unexposed tourniquets formed a control group stored in a laboratory; exposed tourniquets were placed outdoors on a metal roof for 18 months in San Antonio, Texas. Two users, a military cadet and a scientist, made 300 assessments in total. Assessment included major damage (yes-no), effectiveness (hemorrhage control, yes-no), casualty survival (alive-dead), time to stop bleeding, pressure, and blood loss. Time, pressure, and blood loss were reported in tests with effectiveness. Results: Exposed devices had worse results than unexposed devices for major damage (3% [4/150] versus 0% [0/150]; ρ = .018), effectiveness (89% versus 99%; ρ = .002), and survival of casualties (89% versus 100%; ρ < .001). In tests for effectiveness, exposed devices had worse results than unexposed devices for time to stop bleeding (29 seconds versus 26 seconds; ρ = .01) and pressure (200mmHg versus 204mmHg; ρ = .03, respectively), but blood loss volume did not differ significantly. Conclusion: Compared with unexposed control devices, environmentally exposed tourniquets had worse results in tests of component damage, effectiveness, and casualty survival.

The Highest-Impact Combat Orthopedic and Extremity Injury Articles in the Past 70 Years: A Citation Analysis

Nam J, Do WS, Stinner DJ, Wenke JC, Orman JA, Kragh JF 17(1). 55 - 66 (Journal Article)

The objective of this study was to identify the most-cited peer-reviewed combat orthopedic and extremity injury articles published during the past 70 years. Orthopedic trauma presents ongoing challenges to both US civilian and military healthcare personnel. Improvements in combat trauma and extremity injury survival and quality of life are the result of advances in orthopedic trauma research. The Web of Science (including Science Citation Index) was searched for the most cited articles related to combat orthopedic trauma, published from 1940 to 2013. The most-cited article was by Owens et al. (Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, 2007; 137 citations). Between the 1990s and 2000s, there was a 256% increase in the number of highly cited publications. A total of 69% of the articles were on the topics of comorbid vascular trauma (25%), epidemiology (23%), or orthopedic trauma (21%). This study identifies some of the most important contributions to combat orthopedic trauma and research and the areas of greatest scientific interest to the specialty during the past seven decades and highlights key research that has contributed to the evolution of modern combat orthopedic traumatology.

Effectiveness of Pulse Oximetry Versus Doppler for Tourniquet Monitoring

Wall PL, Buising CM, Grulke L, Troester A, Bianchina N, White S, Freymark R, Hassan A, Hopkins JW, Renner CH, Sahr SM 17(1). 36 - 44 (Journal Article)

Background: Pulse oximeters are common and include arterial pulse detection as part of their methodology. The authors investigated the possible usefulness of pulse oximeters for monitoring extremity tourniquet arterial occlusion. Methods: Tactical Ratcheting Medical Tourniquets were tightened to the least Doppler-determined occluding pressure at mid-thigh or mid-arm locations on one limb at a time on all four limbs of 15 volunteers. A randomized block design was used to determine the placement locations of three pulse oximeter sensors on the relevant digits. The times and pressures of pulsatile signal absences and returns were recorded for 200 seconds, with the tourniquet being tightened only when the Doppler ultrasound and all three pulse oximeters had pulsatile signals present (pulsatile waveform traces for the pulse oximeters). Results: From the first Doppler signal absence to tourniquet release, toe-located pulse oximeters missed Doppler signal presence 41% to 50% of the times (discrete 1-second intervals) and missed 39% to 49% of the pressure points (discrete 1mmHg intervals); fingerlocated pulse oximeters had miss rates of 11% to 15% of the times and 13% to 19% of the pressure points. On toes, the pulse oximeter ranges of sensitivity and specificity for Doppler pulse detection were 71% to 90% and 44% to 51%, and on fingers, the respective ranges were 65% to 77% and 78% to 83%. Conclusion: Use of a pulse oximeter to monitor limb tourniquet effectiveness will result in some instances of an undetected weak arterial pulse being present. If a pulse oximeter waveform is obtained from a location distal to a tourniquet, the tourniquet should be tightened. If a pulsatile waveform is not detected, vigilance should be maintained.

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