Training to help Soldiers recognize concussions
March 24, 2014
Spurred by more than 172,000 documented cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) involving Soldiers in garrison and theater since 2000, beginning in August, the Army's Executive Agent for TBI, Army Medicine, will roll out its new concussion training program. The enhanced training will provide a unique blend of organic training technology and cinematic scenario-based training, with interactive practical exercises.
Concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is a significant military concern that can adversely affect Soldier health, unit readiness, and mission accomplishment. Army-wide TBI training has been in place since June 2011 with training materials currently available on the Traumatic Brain Injury Training Support Page on Army Training Network (ATN). The new concussion training program will replace the existing training materials and will be available on ATN in August 2014. Separate products will be available for Soldiers and leaders, medics, primary care providers, and specialty care providers.
Regarding the new concussion training program, Dr. Stephanie Maxfield-Panker, the acting TBI Program Director for Army Medicine, said, "The process has been very involved, because you have to think about several different aspects, and always at the core of it are the messaging and learning objectives and how you're going to convey those learning objectives through different medium. You have a film piece; you have more of the traditional learning didactic pieces, as well as practical exercises."
Dr. Maxfield-Panker added, "The end state we're really going for is this cultural shift within the military, and the Army in particular, so that folks don't feel strange or stigmatized about seeking treatment or screening if they've been exposed to a potentially concussive event."
The training will take place during three specific time periods; initial entry onto active duty, pre-deployment, and annually.
While concussion can be difficult to detect, Panker adds, it is treatable when identified early. Army leaders must ensure appropriate management of all Soldiers involved in potentially concussive events to the maximum extent possible.
The Army has directed its commands to ensure that all Soldiers involved in potentially concussive events are immediately identified and evaluated in order to maintain Soldier health regardless of where they are stationed.