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Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Dynamic Simulated Shooting Performance

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Technical Report

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U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory Fort Rucker United States

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Balance and coordination are disrupted by sensorimotor challenges, including pathologies resulting from blast overpressure or head accelerationimpact. Various vestibular and balance assessment tools are being developed for military use. This research evaluated simulated shooting tasks designed to be more dynamic and balance-intensive than current standard range marksmanship qualification tasks. Using a research-modified Engagement Skills Trainer, shooting performance and perceived workload were assessed during shooting tasks designed to challenge balance analogously to clinical gait assessments. Our first study established that we could detect shooting performance deficits caused by unusual vestibular stimulation. Our second study evaluated whether we could detect performance deficits associated with mild traumatic brain injury mTBI. Our main findings were participants with mTBI were dizzier than healthy subjects and reported a higher perceived workload during the shooting tasks however, we did not detect a decrement in their shooting performance. Further research is needed using healthy and control subjects from the same site.

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