Earlier this month, the military announced it would be updating its protocol for treating and returning soldiers to active duty following traumatic brain injuries. Under the new regulations, individuals must complete a six-step process of progressing levels of activity before being returned to action.
The new rules,published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, were drawn up by the Progressive Activity Working Group, an organization created by officials at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. The group is composed of several experts in neuroscience and brain injuries, along with several representatives from the Department of Defense.
Representatives for the group said the new regulations are an effort to personalize treatment and recovery for soldiers in accordance with the recent research findings.
“Although service members share similarities with athletes,” lead researcher Dr. Karen L. McCulloch, a neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, wrote in an introduction to the new guidelines, “guidance for sports-related concussion is not always relevant to military contexts and does not incorporate the complexities of military demands, decision making under stressful conditions, and multitasking in extreme environments.”
The new rules require a 24-hour period of rest following all brain injuries. Once this time has passed, the patient is monitored during a return to activity. If the individual shows symptoms upon return to activity, they are placed into the six-day treatment, which walks patients from “rest, to light routine activity, to light occupation-oriented activity, to moderate, intensive, and unrestricted activity.”
“These recommendations will further improve and standardize the care provided to patients with mild TBI and offer them useful information to become more actively involved in their recovery,” Captain Richard Stoltz, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury for the Navy, said in a press release.