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Security forces Airmen receive cognitive function screening

by Master Sgt. John Nimmo
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/15/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN)  -- Inbound members of Det. 3, 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, became the first "in-lieu-of" Airmen in the Air Force to be evaluated for cognitive functioning before their deployment to a combat environment.

The purpose of the Automated Neuro-Psychological Assessment Metric 4 is to collect baseline data that can be used comparatively should the Airmen, who will be training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad, sustain injuries affecting mental performance.

"This will become a part of (the Airmen's) medical record," said Col. Judi Hurley, 386th Expeditionary Medical Group deputy commander. "If you later have an injury that may affect your memory, decision-making or other mental activities, you may be checked after the injury. Information can be used to help assess, treat and monitor the recovery of Airmen with a mild traumatic brain injury."

Though the test has been used before by the Army and some Air Force special operators, this is the first time it's being used for "in-lieu-of" forces augmenting the Army in nontraditional combat roles, said Col. Bruce Prunk, 732nd Air Expeditionary Group deputy commander. Approximately 85 security forces members currently in the theater of operations have been exposed to blasts from improvised explosive devices.

"Having deployed multiple times and experienced many of the dangers in the field, it's going to be good in the long run to have a baseline," said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Miller, 732nd ESFS. 

Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability among young adults in America today. Even head injuries without loss of consciousness may result in a temporary decrease in performance. Within the military there is increasing interest in mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) based on information from returning Soldiers, said Colonel Hurley.

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