McCulloch Honored by APTA as Research on Assessment for Wounded Warriors Continues to Draw Support

Dr. Karen McCulloch, Professor, received the Service to Section Award for the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Neurology Section at the 2013 Combined Section Meeting in January.

McCulloch Honored by APTA as Research on Assessment for Wounded Warriors Continues to Draw Support click to enlarge Dr. Deb Larsen, President of the Neurology Section of APTA, presents the Service to Section Award to Dr. Karen McCulloch.

According to a profile on the neuropt.org Web site, “The choice for the Service to the Section Award, whose purpose is to acknowledge and honor a member of the Neurology Section whose contributions to the Section have been of exceptional value, was easy this year.”

The story goes on to cite several examples of Dr. McCulloch’s leadership during her 22 years of service to the section, including the formulation of the Neurology Section Home Study Course, her role as co-founder of the Brain Injury Special Interest Group, and her service as a member of the Consensus Conference on Entry-level Education, Chair of the APTA Neurology Section–TBI Edge Task Force–Outcome Measure Recommendations Committee, and Editorial Board Member of Physiotherapy in Theory and Practice.

Also in early 2013, Dr. McCulloch became co-chair of the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina and began serving on the Governor’s Advisory Council for Brain Injury.
Dr. McCulloch is the primary investigator for a grant titled Assessment of Military Multitasking Performance (AMMP). Funded by the Allina Health System, the grant is providing $243,918 between August 15, 2012, and August 1, 2013.

AMMP is a battery of functional dual- and multitasks that simulate the combined sensorimotor, cognitive, and exertional demands of soldiering for use after concussion/mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).  Investigators anticipate that once validated, the AMMP will help discriminate between “duty-ready” and “non-duty ready” military service members with mTBI.

An interdisciplinary team of civilian and military physical therapists, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists have worked since 2009 to develop the AMMP assessment with the following attributes: employs dual-task and multitasking assessment methods; sensitive to mTBI-related vulnerabilities; comprised of tasks that are based on military scenarios that simultaneously challenge cognitive and sensorimotor systems in ways that approximate the demands of military occupational tasks. While the characteristics of the test protocol may differ from the real world tasks, the stimuli and cognitive-sensorimotor demands of the test protocol resemble that of the real world task or environment.

At UNC, reliability and feasibility testing has focused on two tasks in the AMMP battery, one that requires dual-task performance of a memory task while completing an agility task, and a task called “Run-Roll-Aim” that requires running while carrying a simulated weapon, avoiding obstacles, combat rolls, aiming for visual targets, and backpedaling. Additional testing of the entire battery was completed in the fall at the United States Army Institute of Environmental Medicine. The research team is currently seeking approval to test individuals at Fort Bragg to further validate the measure.

Collaborators on the AMMP project include Dr. Rich Goldberg in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Capt. Henry McMillan, PT, DPT, at Fort Bragg, who is an alumnus of the BS PT program at UNC, and Amy Cecchini, MS, from Fayetteville, who is a graduate of the Human Movement Science master’s program. Graduate students from the DPT and biomedical engineering programs are also involved in the project.

The AMMP project previously received support from a United States Army Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) grant and Dr. McCulloch received funding as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellow through the Rehabilitation and Reintegration Division (R2D) of the Army Office of the Surgeon General. 

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