Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Updated tools and training improve TBI and concussion recovery

A group of military personnel wearing face mask working on laptop computers Air National Guard service members from the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron take a baseline neuro-cognitive assessment known as an Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metric as part of their pre-deployment training at the North Dakota Air National Guard Base, Fargo North Dakota, Feb. 6, 2021. This assessment can be repeated and used by medical professionals in the event of a suspected traumatic brain injury or concussion (Photo by: Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Baardson).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBICoE Podcasts | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Month | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit

Up-to-date clinical tools help military health care providers diagnose and manage traumatic brain injury (TBI) on and off the battlefield. And an increased focus on training providers to use these tools is improving patient outcomes and mission readiness, according to research by the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence.

TBICoE recently conducted research on the Department of Defense Progressive Return to Activity Following Acute Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury clinical recommendations for managing headaches, as well as the Military Acute Concussion Evaluation 2, known as MACE 2.

TBICoE assessed the effectiveness of the return-to-activity guidelines after offering on-site training to providers. Using a similar study design, TBICoE also reported on the effectiveness of a post-traumatic headache management clinical recommendation. At the end of 2020, TBICoE published results of a study on the usability and utility of its MACE 2 screening tool when used in the field.

"We are applying what began with the (return to activity guidelines) a few years back to other TBICoE products," said TBICoE Division Chief, Navy Capt. (Dr.) Scott Pyne. "By training providers in how to use our state-of-the science tools and rehabilitation strategies, patients get better faster, and this contributes to our mission goals of better health and readiness."

TBICoE is a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate.

Based on a study at Army, Navy, and Marine installations, TBICoE researchers found training providers on the return-to-activity guidelines expanded their knowledge, leading to changes in concussion management, and in turn, a positive impact on patient outcomes. The researchers gave providers standardized training on the content and how to clinically apply return-to-activity guidelines for service members with acute concussion. The clinical recommendation describes how to gradually increase patient activity through six stages. The study assessed providers' approach to patient progression through the stages before and after the training.

“Providers who are directly trained in return-to-activity guidelines are more likely to provide effective patient education, ultimately helping their patients to recover more rapidly,” wrote Mark Ettenhofer, a TBICoE research neuropsychologist at Naval Medical Center San Diego, in an article authored with TBICoE colleagues at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and TBICoE headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Recently, TBICoE revised the return-to-activity recommendations to align with the latest scientific literature findings.

TBICoE also assessed the effectiveness of its headache management clinical recommendation, and found instructing providers in its use also improved outcomes. Like the return-to-activity study, providers learned about the headache management clinical recommendation, which provides tools for assessing post-traumatic headaches and contains both drug and non-drug interventions for decreasing their frequency, severity, and duration. The researchers assessed the providers’ treatment approaches before and after instruction, and found, after training, providers scheduled follow-up visits more frequently, which led to better patient monitoring.

"The results presented in this study demonstrate the potential of the Management of Headache Following Concussion (Clinical Recommendation) to promote provider knowledge and confidence in treating (post-traumatic headaches) in a military setting. This in turn may translate to timely return to duty," wrote Camp Pendleton Research Scientist Rosemay Remigio-Baker and colleagues.

In another study published in 2020, TBICoE researchers showed primary care managers and medics could use the MACE 2 screening tool effectively. Designed by TBICoE in conjunction with the TBI Advisory Committee and the military services, the MACE 2 enables users in the field to screen for common symptoms, cognitive deficits, and neurological signs following concussion. Revised in 2018 to improve accuracy, the newer tool now assesses balance and eye motion, increasing screening time.

Bilal Khokhar, an epidemiologist at TBICoE, and his colleagues surveyed 28 active duty primary care managers and 22 Army combat medics. They were asked to rate, on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree, whether they could use the tool, whether various tests were helpful, and whether they were confident about those tests.  When the individual responses were averaged by category of question, the response was positive, and no overall average score fell below the neutral rating.

"Despite the increased complexity and duration of the MACE 2 compared with the previous version of this tool, military providers and Army medics found the new MACE 2 very useable and had a high degree of confidence in its performance," wrote Khokhar and colleagues. However, the researchers cautioned that future studies may result in additional revisions.

"Work must be performed in perpetuity to deliver a product usable by clinicians that offers the greatest validity," said Seth Kiser, the study's senior author and a research scientist at TBICoE.

All these studies demonstrate how TBICoE draws on its expertise in research, clinical affairs, and education to continually update its products and facilitate training, so providers will always "Be TBI ready," based on the latest science. Providers can get the most current information on these tools from TBICoE’s publications, and obtain training on their use from regional education coordinators.

To learn more about Brain Injury Awareness Month, check out the BIAM page on Health.mil.

You also may be interested in...

PRA Training Video 1: PRA Overview

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image of PRA training video 1, PRA overview.

In the first of TBICoE's Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) video training series, you will learn about the reasons for using a progressive return to activity process and receive an overview of the 2021 PRA algorithm and its associated tools. By the end of lesson one, providers will better understand the PRA process, and explain that process to service members diagnosed with concussion. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 2: Six Major Changes

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image of PRA Training Video 2, Six Major Changes

In this lesson we review the six major changes in the TBICoE's revised 2021 Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation that differ from the original recommendation. The changes reflect the latest TBI research, and will make it easier for providers to manage the recovery process and return service members with concussion to full duty as quickly and safely as possible. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 3: Understanding Relative Rest

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image for PRA Training video 3, understanding relative rest

In this lesson we explain the differences between complete rest and relative rest in a staged concussion recovery process, and provide examples of activities that promote relative rest. The revised Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation uses the term 'relative rest' to emphasize the importance of early introduction of physical and cognitive activities that do not provoke symptoms following TBI. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 5: The Six Stages of the PRA

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image for PRA training video 5, the six stages of the PRA

In this lesson, we cover the key activity objectives for each of the six stages of the Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation and provide activity examples for each stage. Each stage is designed to gradually increase the intensity and duration of a service member's physical and cognitive activity as they advance in the PRA process. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 7: Symptom-Guided Management and Specialty Referral Guidance Tables

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image of PRA training video 7, the symptom-guided management and specialty referral guidance tables.

This lesson covers how to use the Progressive Return to Activity, or PRA's Symptom-Guided Management and Specialty Referral Guidance tables. This lesson also details primary care management strategies for service members who are not progressing as expected in the PRA. Each video in the Progressive Return to Activity training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 4: PRA Progression Criteria

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image for PRA Training video 4, PRA progression criteria

In this lesson, we review the criteria for advancing through the stages of the Progressive Return to Activity (PRA) Clinical Recommendation. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 8: Clinical Case Scenario

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image of PRA training video 8, clinical case scenario.

This is an interactive clinical case scenario to test your understanding in applying the Progressive Return to Activity (PRA). We hope this will help medical providers become more familiar with the PRA process when treating service members with concussion. Each video in the PRA training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

PRA Training Video 6: The Return to Duty Screening

Video
7/22/2021
Thumbnail image of PRA training video 6, the return to duty screening

In this lesson, we cover how to perform the Return to Duty, or RTD screening, which now includes both vestibular/physical and neurocognitive examinations. The purpose of the RTD screening is to objectively measure whether a service member is ready for return to full duty. Each video in the Progressive Return to Activity training series is designed to support primary care providers' ability to manage concussion/traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Provider Resources | Provider Education | Traumatic Brain Injury

Caregiver Guide supports service members and veterans with TBI

Article
7/22/2021
Military family posing for a picture

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence’s 2021 Caregiver Guide provides specific tools to help caregivers manage TBI patient recovery.

Recommended Content:

Centers of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Education and Training Events

2020 TBICoE Annual Report

Publication
7/9/2021

2020 Traumatic Brian Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE) Annual Report.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI Hot Topics Bulletin May 2021

Publication
7/8/2021

The TBI Hot Topics Bulletin is a product of the TBICoE research branch and provides a quarterly summary of TBI research relevant to health care providers. This issue covers research published January to March 2021.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBICoE Research | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans

Publication
7/7/2021

The 2021 "Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans" is a recovery support tool to assist caregivers of service members and veterans who have sustained a traumatic brain injury at any severity level.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources | TBI Educators | Traumatic Brain Injury

Aphasia, Caused by Stroke or TBI, is Frustrating and Little Known

Article
6/29/2021
A doctor looking at brain scans

Aphasia is an incurable disease usually caused by stroke that affects all forms of communication.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Heart Health | Centers of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI Caregiver Support Forms

Form/Template
6/29/2021

This is a fillable and printer-friendly version of the forms available in the "Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans."

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | Patient and Family Resources

NICoE Education Webinar Series: July Poster

Publication
6/25/2021

Service Members and TBI: The Not So Invisible Wound

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Education and Training Events | Centers of Excellence
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 16

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.