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    Researchers and Guard Physicians Set Their Sights on Mitigating the Impact of Blast Exposures

    Researchers and Guard Physicians Set Their Sights on Mitigating the Impact of Blast Exposures

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Kati Volkman | Red Arrow Soldiers from the 1-120th Field Artillery Battalion and 1-105th Cavalry...... read more read more

    FORT MCCOY, WI, UNITED STATES

    04.14.2024

    Story by Staff Sgt. Kati Volkman 

    32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

    FORT MCCOY, Wis. – Red Arrow Soldiers from the 1-120th Field Artillery Battalion and 1-105th Cavalry Squadron were visited by a team of civilian researchers and Wisconsin National Guard surgeons on April 9, 2024, during their training at Fort McCoy, Wis., to discuss a study being planned to measure blast exposure and evaluate associated effects among Soldiers during routine training.

    Dr. Walter Carr, research psychologist with Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Blast Induced Neurotrauma Branch, has conducted this type of research for several years, and explained that it is eye-opening when he talks about the possible effects of blast exposure in front of people who have responsibility for Soldiers and they frequently nod and say ‘yup, I’ve heard this and I’ve seen this before.’

    “We’re out here today to see how everything works in the field during training and plan how we can bring our equipment and research personnel on site to gather the information without interfering with the mission,” elaborated Carr.

    The idea of bringing this study to the 32nd IBCT came from a conversation two years ago between Maj. Gregory Miller, 1-105th HHT Squadron Surgeon, and Sgt. First Class Joseph Russett, Troop A 1-105th, who serves as an indirect fire infantryman.

    Russett has served in the Wisconsin National Guard for 16 years, most of which he has been around mortar fire. “Maj. Miller asked me if I had any questions, and all I could think was ‘What can we do for myself and my friends 20 years from now? What is that going to look like?’” reflected Russett. “A lot of us have or will have issues that are likely related to our MOS (military occupational specialty), but it isn’t documented anywhere.”

    Miller, who is also a civilian family physician, was shocked by the blast overpressure of a mortar round the first time he was exposed to one, which happened to be the same day he met Russett.

    “The first time I ever was near a mortar round being shot off I jumped out of my boots, and I was probably 100 yards away,” said Miller. “When I was speaking to the Soldiers afterward, I was impressed by Russett bringing the potential lasting physical impacts to light. I’m glad that two years later, we can finally say we’re on our way to getting him an answer.”

    Miller partnered up with Maj. Karl Greene, who is a field surgeon with the 135th Medical Company, 641st Troop Command Battalion, and a civilian neurosurgeon. Together they were able to move forward with finding ongoing research that tied into this topic, eventually bringing the proposal of doing a study to Col. Matthew Elder, commander of the 32nd IBCT.

    “Our primary goal is to find ways to make adjustments to the equipment to decrease the exposure level,” expressed Miller.
    Elder has witnessed the impact of blast exposure from mortar and artillery fire first-hand, and is relieved that it is something that is being studied and taken seriously.

    “If this study comes to fruition, we’ll be the first national guard to have blast impacts looked at,” explained Elder. “This will mean being at the leading edge of our civilian-soldiers potentially getting help on this issue in the future.

    Lt. Col. Kevin Whitney, brigade surgeon with the 32nd IBCT, is focused on ways this information could help not only our servicemembers, but the state of Wisconsin as a whole.

    “A study like this could potentially impact our Soldiers by giving them access to new mitigation procedures and creating records of exposures, which could also spread through the state to other stakeholders like civilian law enforcement and SWAT teams who have people exposed to similar blasts from breaches and other explosive fires.”

    Dr. Adam Bartsch, PhD PE, Chief Science Officer at Prevent Biometrics (Edina, Minnesota), has already been doing some of this research on training exposures and brain health with a lot of different groups in contact sports, including football and rugby players, and more recently he’s worked with military populations including paratroopers, servicemembers practicing combatives, and, in collaboration with Dr. Carr, servicemembers exposed to blast overpressure from breaching explosives and heavy weapon fires.

    “Our mission is to get data, to get people checked out, and then add the data to their medical records,” stated Bartsch. “Whether it’s in the sports or military arena, the faster you can identify and treat someone with a possible brain injury, the sooner you can get them back in the field, which will directly improve mission readiness for the military.”

    “If I am part of a very successful effort to mitigate blast exposures, maybe 10 years from now when you talk to Soldiers about firing artillery and mortar, and experiencing negative effects, they might not nod, instead they might look at you and say, ‘what effects?' That would be a win,” concluded Carr.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.14.2024
    Date Posted: 04.16.2024 23:03
    Story ID: 468690
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US

    Web Views: 562
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN