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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

SWCOEH alum Kalyn Jannace, PhD, co-authors study of Traumatic Brain Injury in U.S. military service members

Houston (March 21, 2022) –Kalyn Jannace, PhD, an alumnus of the Occupational Epidemiology Program of the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) at UTHealth School of Public Health, was the first author for a study on traumatic brain injury (TBI) as an occupational health hazard of military service. The study examined differences in military occupational categories (MOC) which take into consideration the physical demands and job requirements across occupational groups. The study, “Occupation and Risk of Traumatic Brain Injury in the Millennium Cohort Study” was published by Military Medicine on February 27, 2022.

David Gimeno, PhD, the SWCOEH Center Director and Occupational Epidemiology Program Director and William “Brett” Perkison, MD, MPH, the SWCOEH Occupational Medicine Residency Program Director, co-authored the study.

“Publication is a major mode of the dissemination of knowledge, so we are proud of our SWCOEH trainees’ record of publishing their dissertation findings in the peer-review literature within their field of expertise,” said Dr. Gimeno.

“We discovered increased risk for traumatic brain injury across many different occupations within the military,” Jannace said. “While we expected that infantry, gun crews, and seamanship occupations would be at higher risk based on existing research, we didn't expect that many other occupations (e.g., electrical/mechanical equipment repairers, service & supply handlers, health care specialists, or communicaitons & intelligence) would also be at increased risk as compared to functional support & administration. positions. Further, we found differences between enlisted and officer ranks and that reporting a previous brain injury dramatically increased the risk of reporting an occupational TBI, with the risk doubling if you reported more than one brain injury prior to military service.”

“Given the large focus on blast and combat related TBI in the military, I believe we are missing a larger piece of the puzzle,” Jannace continued. “What happens when our service members are outside of combat, training every day? With more funding and time, I would follow every service member through the entirety of their time in the military, ensuring TBI capture not just through self-report, but with instruments such as the NSI that could track long-term neurobehavioral problems. Capturing the details of the TBI around the time of injury would be amazing as well: mechanism of injury, place of injury, or severity of injury.”

Jannace is currently participating in a research study in this area through a large consortium that is working to capture details of concussion as early as possible. “I work on the military arm of the study,” Jannace said. “We are tracking concussion and high-impact exposures for service academy cadets. Very excited to see what we find!”

The SWCOEH provides a variety of graduate-level training opportunities for occupational and environmental health professionals through our industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental medicine, occupational epidemiology, and Total Worker Health®.