The exam room is quiet as a Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma
Consortium (CENC) participant begins to speak. On this particular day, Joe
Montanari is recalling his time spent serving the U.S. military and his
multiple deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. Memories of the brotherhood and
camaraderie he shared with his fellow soldiers wash over him as he recounts
stories about his experiences that led to sustaining multiple concussions.
Montanari, a small arms / artillery repairer while serving
in the Army and current Administrative and Research Assistant with CENC, was
deployed in 1999 and 2001 to Kosovo and in 2004-2005 and 2009 to Iraq. During
his time of service, he sustained multiple concussions, including two from
boxing and taking cover from a rocket attack. He says he began to notice the
effects of his concussions upon completing his second deployment.
“When I returned from my second deployment, I noticed a lot
of differences [cognitively], including not being able to concentrate after
reading a paragraph,” he said.
For Montanari and others like him, a driving force behind
participation in research studies is the idea of brotherhood and the ability to
help future soldiers.
“I feel great being able to participate in the study,
because I know that I am adding to the data that may aid in treatments of these
injuries in future soldiers,” he said.
Studies like those that make up CENC allow Service Members
and Veterans to learn more about the blast-related concussions that they or
their fellow Service Members may have sustained while serving. Most of the studies involve blood work, movement,
coordination, vision, and balance testing, and an interview about life events
that may have resulted in a concussion.
Many Service Members are not immediately evaluated after
sustaining a concussion for a wide variety of reasons. However, from his
participation in CENC, Montanari has learned just how important it is to be
assessed for a concussion post-injury and urges others to follow his advice.
“Tighten your Kevlar and take concussions seriously. They
can cause more damage than you think,” he said.
Montanari went on to explain that he would encourage all of
his fellow Service Members and Veterans to participate in military research.
“We are a tight group of brothers and sisters that will do
anything for each other. That ranges from watching each other’s six to spending
an entire day at the VA for a research study to help future vets. I believe
other participants just need to get the word out.”
Montanari is available to answer any questions about the
mission of CENC by phone at 804-828-2617 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CENC is a research consortium jointly funded by
the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense and is comprised
of ten studies at various universities and medical centers across the country.
It seeks to fill in the gaps of knowledge about concussion in Service Members
and Veterans. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about
the mission of CENC and exploring our research, please visit cenc.rti.org.