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J Neurotrauma. 2019 Mar 1;36(5):721-734. doi: 10.1089/neu.2018.5737. Epub 2018 Oct 3.

Impact of Low-Level Blast Exposure on Brain Function after a One-Day Tactile Training and the Ameliorating Effect of a Jugular Vein Compression Neck Collar Device.

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1 Pediatric Neuroimaging Research Consortium, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center , Cincinnati, Ohio.
10 University of Cincinnati College of Medicine , Cincinnati, Ohio.
2 The SPORT Center, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center , Cincinnati, Ohio.
3 Division of Radiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center , Cincinnati, Ohio.
4 Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Cincinnati , Ohio.
5 Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center , Cincinnati, Ohio.
6 Department of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro , Greensboro, North Carolina.
7 School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University , West Lafayette, Indiana.
8 Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgery, University of Cincinnati , Ohio.
9 The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention , Waltham, Massachusetts.


Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel who conduct breacher exercises are at risk for blast-related head trauma. We aimed to investigate the potential impact of low-level blast exposure during breacher training on the neural functioning of working memory and auditory network connectivity. We also aimed to evaluate the effects of a jugular vein compression collar, designed to internally mitigate slosh energy absorption, preserving neural functioning and connectivity, following blast exposure. A total of 23 SWAT personnel were recruited and randomly assigned to a non-collar (n = 11) and collar group (n = 12). All participants completed a 1-day breacher training with multiple blast exposure. Prior to and following training, 18 participants (non-collar, n = 8; collar, n = 10) completed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of working memory using N-Back task; 20 participants (non-collar, n = 10; collar, n = 12) completed resting-state fMRI. Key findings from the working memory analysis include significantly increased fMRI brain activation in the right insular, right superior temporal pole, right inferior frontal gyrus, and pars orbitalis post-training for the non-collar group (p < 0.05, threshold-free cluster enhancement corrected), but no changes were noted for the collar group. The elevation in fMRI activation in the non-collar group was found to correlate significantly (n = 7, r = 0.943, p = 0.001) with average peak impulse amplitude experienced during the training. In the resting-state fMRI analysis, significant pre- to post-training increase in connectivity between the auditory network and two discrete regions (left middle frontal gyrus and left superior lateral occipital/angular gyri) was found in the non-collar group, while no change was observed in the collar group. These data provided initial evidence of the impact of low-level blast on working memory and auditory network connectivity as well as the protective effect of collar on brain function following blast exposure, and is congruent with previous collar findings in sport-related traumatic brain injury.


auditory network functional connectivity; blast exposure; fMRI; neck collar; working memory


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