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

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

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.

Laboratory Testing of Emergency Tourniquets Exposed to Prolonged Heat

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

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.

Initial Tourniquet Pressure Does Not Affect Tourniquet Arterial Occlusion Pressure

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

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; and Tactical Ratcheting Medical Tourniquets (RMTs; www 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.

Blood Flow Restriction Rehabilitation for Extremity Weakness: A Case Series

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

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.

Decompression Sickness Following Altitude-Chamber Training

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

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.

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

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)

Return to Duty After Severe Bilateral Lower Extremity Trauma

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

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.

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

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

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.

Injuries and Injury Prevention During Foot Marching

Knapik JJ 14(4). 131 - 135 (Journal Article)

Since the beginning of recorded history, Soldiers have carried arms and equipment on their bodies. More recently, loads have substantially increased, driven by improvements in weapons technology and personal protection. As Soldier loads increase, there are increases in energy cost, altered gait mechanics, increased stress on the musculoskeletal system, and more rapid fatigue, factors that may increase the risk of injury. Common injuries and symptoms experienced by Soldiers on load-carriage missions include foot blisters, metatarsalgia, knee problems, and back problems. This article discusses these problems, providing diagnoses, injury mechanisms, and preventive measures. In general, lighter loads, improving load distribution, using appropriate physical training, selecting proper equipment, and using specific prevention techniques will facilitate load carriage and provide Special Operations Forces with a higher probability of mission success.

Management of Open Chest Wounds in Tactical Emergency Casualty Care: Application of Vented Versus Nonvented Chest Seals

Margolis AM, Tang N, Levy MJ, Callaway DW 14(4). 136 - 138 (Journal Article)

The 2014 midyear, full meeting of the Committee for Tactical Emergency Combat Care (C-TECC) was hosted by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Law Enforcement Medicine on June 9 and 10 in Baltimore, Maryland. As the C-TECC guidelines are increasingly recognized as the best-practice recommendations for civilian, high-threat, prehospital trauma response, a focused guidelines discussion occurred to develop bestpractice recommendations for the management of open chest wounds, specifically regarding the application of vented and nonvented chest seals.

Sore Throat

Banting J, Meriano T 14(4). 124 - 128 (Journal Article)

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.


Burnett MW 14(4). 129 - 130 (Journal Article)

Chikungunya is a rapidly emerging infectious disease caused by a virus of the genus Alphavirus, family Togaviridae. Most commonly, patients have an acute onset of fever with often debilitating symmetric joint discomfort that can relapse months after the initial infection. This infection is typically transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito, vectors that also transmit dengue and yellow fever. Special Operations Forces Medical Providers should be aware of this disease, which is currently being diagnosed worldwide.

Force Health Protection Support Following a Natural Disaster: The 227th Medical Detachment's Role in Response to Superstorm Sandy

Stanley SE, Faulkenberry JB 14(4). 106 - 112 (Journal Article)

On 3 November 2012, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the 227th Preventive Medicine Medical Detachment deployed to support relief operations in New Jersey and New York State. The unit was on the severe weather support mission (SWRF) and ordered to provide preventive medicine support to relief personnel within the affected area. In addition, teams from the 227th conducted environmental surveillance in the two-state region where Army Corps of Engineers were pumping floodwaters from affected neighborhoods. The 227th rapid deployment highlights the complexities associated with defense support to civil authorities and provides excellent teaching points that may enhance units' expeditionary posture, regardless of mission.

This Is Africa. Bites, Stings, and Rigors: Clinical Considerations in African Operations

Lynch JH, Verlo AR, Givens ML, Munoz CE 14(4). 113 - 121 (Journal Article)

The natural health threats in Africa pose daunting clinical challenges for any provider, as evidenced by the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa, but the threat is multiplied for the Special Operations provider on the continent who faces these challenges with limited resources and the tyranny of distance. The majority of operationally significant health risks can be mitigated by strict adherence to a comprehensive force health protection plan. The simplest, yet most effective, technique for preventing mosquito-borne diseases is the prevention of mosquito bites with repellent, bed nets, and appropriate clothing in addition to chemoprophylaxis. Some of the more likely or lethal infectious diseases encountered on the continent include malaria, Chikungunya, dengue, human immunodeficiency virus, and Ebola. Venomous snakes pose a particular challenge since the treatment can be as deadly as the injury. Providers supporting African operations should educate themselves on the clinical characteristics of possible envenomations in their area while promoting snake avoidance as the primary mitigation measure. To succeed in Africa, the Special Operations provider must consider how to meet these challenges in an environment where there may not be reliable evacuation, hospitalization, or logistics channels.

Erythema Nodosum

Vigilante JA, Scribner J 14(4). 122 - 123 (Journal Article)

An active duty female Sailor reports to your clinic complaining of tender nodules to her legs beginning 1.5 weeks ago. She is diagnosed with erythema nodosum (EN), a painful disorder of the subcutaneous fat that is usually self-limited but may be a clue to an additional underlying medical diagnosis. This article reviews the pathophysiology, causes, course, diagnosis, and management of EN.

Pilot Ejection, Parachute, and Helicopter Crash Injuries

McBratney CM, Rush SC, Kharod C 14(4). 92 - 94 (Journal Article)

USAF Pararescuemen (PJs) respond to downed aircrew as a fundamental mission for personnel recovery (PR), one of the Air Force's core functions. In addition to responding to these in Military settings, the PJs from the 212 Rescue Squadron routinely respond to small plane crashes in remote regions of Alaska. While there is a paucity of information on the latter, there have been articles detailing injuries sustained from helicopter crashes and while ejecting or parachuting from fixed wing aircraft. The following represents a new chapter added to the Pararescue Medical Operations Handbook, Sixth Edition (2014, editors Matt Wolf, MD, and Stephen Rush, MD, in press). It was designed to be a quick reference for PJs and their Special Operations flight surgeons to help with understanding of mechanism of injury with regard to pilot ejection, parachute, and helicopter accident injuries. It outlines the nature of the injuries sustained in such mishaps and provides an epidemiologic framework from which to approach the problem.

Performance Psychology as a Key Component of Human Performance Optimization

Herzog TP, Deuster PA 14(4). 99 - 105 (Journal Article)

The degree of psychological fitness will ultimately impact mission outcomes, so approaches to enhancing it are critical. Performance psychology is one important aspect of psychological fitness that fits into the holistic model of human performance optimization. This article delves into one component of performance psychology: how mental skill training can be applied to improve performance on mission-related tasks. Mental skills training provides added internal resources to help meet the extraordinary external demands that Special Operations Forces personnel can face. Relevance in terms of the demand-resource model and the positive psychology concept of flow are explained. The application of two specific mental skills-executing a goal-setting process and using mental imagery to rehearse technical, tactical, and strategic tasks-will be discussed by using the example of how to enhance performance when entering and clearing rooms.

Point Prevalence Survey for Tick-Borne Pathogens in Military Working Dogs, Shelter Animals, and Pet Populations in Northern Colombia

McCown ME, Alleman A, Sayler KA, Chandrashekar R, Thatcher B, Tyrrell P, Stillman B, Beall M, Barbet AF 14(4). 81 - 85 (Journal Article)

Background: Based on the high tick-borne pathogen results from a 2011 surveillance study in three Colombian cities, an in-depth point prevalence survey was conducted to determine the seroprevalence of tick-borne pathogens at a specific point in time in 70 working dogs, 101 shelter dogs, and 47 client-owned dogs in Barranquilla, Colombia. Results: Of the 218 serum samples, 163 (74%) were positive for Ehrlichia canis and 116 (53%) for Anaplasma platys. Exposure to tick-borne pathogens was highest in shelter and working dogs where more than 90% of the samples were seropositive or positive on polymerase chain reaction for one or more organisms as compared to 51% in client-owned animals. Conclusion: Surveillance for exposure to tickborne pathogens provides vital information necessary to protect and conserve the health of local humans and animals, deployed military service members, and working dogs in various parts of the world. This study and resultant data demonstrate the value of following a broadbased surveillance study with a more specific, focused analysis in an area of concern. This area's high levels of exposure warrant emphasis by medical planners and advisors on precautionary measures for military dogs, Special Operations Forces personnel, and the local public.

Review of Canine Deaths While in Service in US Civilian Law Enforcement (2002-2012)

Stojsih SE, Baker JL, Les CM, Bir CA 14(4). 86 - 91 (Journal Article)

Background: Working dogs have been proven effective in multiple military and law enforcement applications. Similar to their human counterparts, understanding mortality while still in service can help improve treatment of injuries, and improve equipment and training, to potentially reduce deaths. This is a retrospective study to characterize mortality of working dogs used in civilian law enforcement. Methods: Reported causes of death were gathered from two working dog and law enforcement officer memorial websites. Results: Of the 867 civilian law enforcement dogs reported to these memorial websites from 2002 to 2012 with reported causes of death while in service, the deaths of 318 were categorized as traumatic. The leading reported causes of traumatic death or euthanasia include trauma as a result of a vehicle strike, 25.8% (n = 82); heatstroke, 24.8% (n = 79); and penetrating ballistic trauma, 23.0% (n = 73). Conclusion: Although the information gathered was from online sources, this study casts some light on the risks that civilian law enforcement dogs undergo as part of the tasks to which they are assigned. These data underscore the need for a comprehensive database for this specialized population of working dogs to provide the robust, reliable data needed to develop prevention and treatment strategies for this valuable resource.

Special Forces Medical Sergeants' Perceptions and Beliefs Regarding Their Current Medical Sustainment Program: Implications for the Field

Wilson RL, DeZee KJ 14(4). 59 - 69 (Journal Article)

Background: Special Forces Medical Sergeants (SFMS) are trained to provide trauma and medical care in support of military operations and diplomatic missions throughout the world with indirect physician oversight. This study assessed their perceptions of the current program designed to sustain their medical skills. Methods: An Internet-based survey was developed using the constructs of the Theory of Reasoned Action/Planned Behavior and validated through survey best practices. Results: Of the 334 respondents, 92.8% had deployed at least once as an SFMS. Respondents reported spending 4 hours per week sustaining their medical skills and were highly confident that they could perform their duties on a no-notice deployment. On a 5-point, Likerttype response scale, SFMS felt that only slight change is needed to the Special Operations Medical Skills Sustainment Course (mean: 2.17; standard deviation [SD]: 1.05), while moderate change is needed to the Medical Proficiency Training (mean: 2.82; SD: 1.21) and nontrauma modules (mean: 3.02; SD: 1.22). Respondents desire a medical sustainment program that is provided by subject matter experts, involves actual patient care, incorporates new technology, uses hands-on simulation, and is always available. Conclusions: SFMS are challenged to sustain their medical skills in the current operational environment, and barriers to medical training should be minimized to facilitate sustainment training. Changes to the current medical sustainment program should incorporate operator-level perspectives to ensure acceptability and utility but must be balanced with organizational realities. Improving the medical sustainment program will prepare SFMS for the challenges of future missions.

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