Research

Combating Concussions

There are a thousand ways service members can receive mild traumatic brain injuries during training and active duty. Ten years ago, basic concussion testing protocols didn’t account for the intense activities required of this population. UNC researcher Karen McCulloch has worked to change that

There are a thousand ways service members can receive mild traumatic brain injuries during training and active duty. Ten years ago, basic concussion testing protocols didn’t account for the intense activities required of this population. UNC researcher Karen McCulloch has worked to change that

Most concussions in the military don’t happen in combat, according to Karen McCulloch, a professor of physical therapy in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Allied Health Sciences.

“Concussions happen just as a result of training exercises and things that they are normally doing — things that are recreational, car crashes, that kind of thing,” she said. “And they happen more stateside than when they’re deployed.”

McCulloch began developingmilitary specific concussion testing protocolsOpens in new windowfor active duty service members nearly 10 years ago. An expert in traumatic brain injury, she knew the current testing regimen for civilians was far removed from the rigors that military men and women often experience.

“Think about the kind of speed at which people have to react in combat zones,” she said. “If you are not at full capacity, you are potentially jeopardizing your safety and that of the people in your unit … So, to me, it’s really important work to meet the needs they have and keep them as safe as they can be.”

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