Poster Abstracts

Abstract

Special Operations Forces (SOF) have unique operational demands in comparison with non-SOF units. Yet, little work has been done to quantify important differences in clinically-relevant characteristics related to SOF group membership. The objective of this study was to quantify differences between SOF and conventional military forces (CMF) on neuropsychological measures and Bethesda Eye and Attention Measure (BEAM) metrics to better serve both populations following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Participants were 222 Service Members with a history of mTBI being treated in a large military, interdisciplinary TBI program. SOF outperformed CMF on the following neuropsychological measures: Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT; p=.006), Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (NAB) Story Immediate Recall (p=.024), NAB Story Delayed Recall (p=.033), Trails-A (p=.008), and Trails B (p=.018.) Furthermore, SOF outperformed CMF on BEAM manual reaction time (RT) metrics as follows: Directional Cue (DC) RT (p=.024), Misdirectional Cue RT (p=.012), Uncued RT (p=.031). Despite a higher operational tempo and more brain injuries, blast exposures, and deployments, SOF reported fewer symptoms and outperformed CMF on most objective neurocognitive measures. Further exploration of these differences is required to better identify and treat members of SOF who report declines in cognitive function following a history of mild traumatic brain injury.

First AuthorLars D Hungerford
Second AuthorMark L Ettenhofer
Third AuthorJenna K Trotta