Effects of mTBI on marksmanship abilities, weapons utilization tasks
April 25, 2013
Approximately 90 percent of acute mild traumatic brain injury patients and 80 percent of chronic mTBI patients display vestibular disorders, such as vertigo, dizziness, and disequilibrium. In addition, reports from occupational and physical therapists indicate that Soldiers recovering from mTBI experience balance-related difficulties with weapons utilization.
The U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory's Warfighter Health Division is developing a return-to-duty assessment battery for recovering dismounted Warfighters by examining the vestibular and balance-related effects of mTBI on marksmanship abilities and weapons utilization tasks.
The study "Development of a Return-to-Duty Assessment Battery for Recovering Dismounted Warfighters" by Catherine Webb, USAARL principal investigator and research psychologist, evaluates if a novel dynamic weapons utilization battery can supplement current RTD assessments.
During phase 1 of the research study, sixty U.S. Army Soldiers completed five marksmanship tasks: turn to shoot, kneel and shoot, pick up and shoot, walk and shoot, and traverse beam and shoot using USAARL's Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 weapons simulator. All tasks were measured for accuracy, reaction time, shot radius, and aiming drift.
"The data from phase 1 allowed us to assess the reliability and sensitivity of the new tasks," said Webb. "It looks like task 2, the narrow kneel and shoot task shown in the photo, is the most promising. The next step is to collect data from an mTBI population."
Phase 2 of this study will examine the effects of mTBI on marksmanship abilities using those tasks that were found reliable and sensitive from the phase 1 analysis.
Webb presented preliminary results of this promising study at the 2012 Military Health System Research Symposium, as well as the recent RTD research working group meeting, sponsored by the USAMRMC Military Operational Medicine.