Functional Screening for Vestibular and Balance Problems Soon After head Injury: Options in Development for the Field or Aid Station

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Lawson BD, Rupert AH, Cho TH 13(1). 42 - 48 (Journal Article)

Vestibular balance dysfunction has been documented as a military problem after duty-related barotrauma and/ or traumatic head acceleration. We are fostering the development of rapid, portable, fieldable tests of balance function after such vestibular insults. We consulted on military-relevant tests with more than 50 vestibular researchers, scientific advisors, clinicians, and biomedical engineers working for government agencies, universities, clinics, hospitals, or businesses. Screening tests and devices appropriate for early (post-injury) military functional assessment were considered. Based on these consultations, we recommend that military field tests emphasize dynamic, functional, and duty-relevant aspects of standing balance, gait, visual acuity, perception of visual vertical, and vertigo. While many current tests are useful for the clinic, they often require modification before they are suitable for military field and aid station settings. This report summarizes likely future military testing needs, giving priority to testing approaches in development that promise to be rapid, portable, field-ready, semiautomated, usable by a nonspecialist, and suitable during testing and rehabilitation.

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