The Coast Guard Academy wants to track cadets after graduation as part of a massive concussion study

news
U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2016 graduates celebrate during their commencement ceremony in New London, Conn., May 18, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall)

The Coast Guard Academy, which is involved in the most comprehensive concussion study to date, is preparing to track cadets after they leave the academy to examine the impact a concussion can have on a person's brain over time.

The study, launched in 2014 by the NCAA and the Department of Defense, initially looked at the impacts from concussions or repeated head injuries in the hours, days and weeks after the injury, and compared those to assessments done beforehand. Now, it is expanding the study to look at potential cumulative effects.


To date, the study, which aims to understand the effect concussions have on the brain and to identify ways to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention, has collected data on about 40,000 student-athletes and cadets from 30 colleges and military service academies, including more than 3,300 who had a concussion.

For about four years now, the academy has done a baseline assessment of cadets that looks at their balance, reaction time, and memory recall. That's been key in informing the care that comes when a cadet sustains a concussion, said Cmdr. Carlos Estevez, the primary investigator at the academy for the study.

"If you don't have a baseline, you don't have anything to compare it to," Estevez said during an interview last week. "Having that baseline assessment is key."

That afternoon he was going to be examining a male cadet who had had a concussion, putting him through the cognitive assessment again to see where or whether changes occurred, and thus where to focus the care.

The academy has an established concussion protocol from what happens to an athlete on sidelines to returning to play, but that could differ from what's in place at the University of Connecticut or Connecticut College, Estevez said, explaining he'd like to see standardized concussion care established across the board.

The study has already contributed to research such as the short-term impact of the age someone is when they first get a concussion and how sleep impacts concussion recovery. Given the large sample size, researchers have been able to conduct initial analyses and findings, which are publicly available.

The NCAA is providing $12.5 million in funding over two years, and the Pentagon approved a two-year grant of nearly $10 million for the second stage of research, which will follow cadets and student-athletes for up to four years after graduation. In addition to ongoing cognitive assessments, participants' psychological health will be tracked to determine what role, if any, concussions and repetitive head impacts may have on depression, anxiety and emotional control.

———

©2019 The Day (New London, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Chief Master Sgt. Jason Morehouse. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The command chief of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, was removed from his position last month after his chain of command received evidence he disrespected his subordinates.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the security alliance's allies to maintain and strengthen their "unity," saying the organization is "the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security."

Stoltenberg told reporters on November 19 that NATO "has only grown stronger over the last 70 years" despite "differences" among the allies on issues such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal, and the situation in northeastern Syria.

He was speaking at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting aimed at finalizing preparations for next month's summit in London.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

WASHINGTON — More than $35 million of the roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump delayed, sparking the impeachment inquiry, has not been released to the country, according to a Pentagon spending document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Instead, the defense funding for Ukraine remains in U.S. accounts, according to the document. It's not clear why the money hasn't been released, and members of Congress are demanding answers.

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

The admiral in charge of Navy special operators will decide whether to revoke the tridents for Eddie Gallagher and other SEALs involved in the Navy's failed attempt to prosecute Gallagher for murder, a defense official said Tuesday.

The New York Times' David Philipps first reported on Tuesday that the Navy could revoke the SEAL tridents for Gallagher as well as his former platoon commander Lt. Jacob Portier and two other SEALs: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.

The four SEALs will soon receive a letter that they have to appear before a board that will consider whether their tridents should be revoked, a defense official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.

Read More Show Less