On March 17, 2022, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers were featured in a podcast about brain health in United States Special Operations Forces (SOF), hosted by United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Senior Enlisted Leader Chief Master Sergeant Greg Smith. This SOFCast highlighted a new partnership between MGH and USSOCOM, who together launched a comprehensive study to identify the effects of repeated blast exposure on SOF Service Members. The study, called ReBlast, is a key component of USSOCOM’s initiative to optimize cognitive performance, battle readiness, and career longevity in SOF personnel.
The SOFCast was part of an all-day briefing on the ReBlast study at MGH’s Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging that was attended by USSOCOM Commander, General Richard D. Clarke, and other military leaders from the U.S. and allied nations. The study, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and USSOCOM, involves two days of neuroimaging, cognitive, behavioral, and blood-based biomarker tests. The goal of the study is to identify biomarkers that correlate with blast exposure and to develop a standardized diagnostic test that detects blast-related brain injury. Currently, the effects of repeated blasts on the human brain are not fully understood, and there is no validated diagnostic test to guide clinical care for SOF personnel. Ultimately, the ReBlast investigator team hopes that the results of this study will optimize long-term brain health and quality of life for SOF personnel. Additional details of the study protocol can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov.