PA Professor Dr. David PaulkDr. David Paulk, professor in the Physician Assistant (PA) Program at MBU’s Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, was invited to speak about the diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) at the University of The Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July.

Paulk spoke about child maltreatment in South Africa and mTBI in children and adolescents, as well as his life as an educator. An expert in the field, Paulk is the sole PA serving on the CDC’s Division of Injury Prevention and Control’s Workgroup to Improve the Clinical Care of Youth with mTBI.

The audience consisted of members of the Wits medical school and clinical associate school, as well as members of the Johannesburg medical community, who were interested in addressing these pressing medical issues in their communities. South Africa has only recently in 2016 published a comprehensive study of child abuse and neglect.

“South Africa is behind other countries, particularly the United States, in terms of the diagnosis and treatment of mTBI and TBI,” Paulk said. “Whereas our number one cause of mTBI/TBI is falls, followed by motor vehicle accidents, their number one cause is violence, followed by cars hitting pedestrians.”

After Paulk returned home, he received word from Wits that the university’s trauma center was adopting the CDC guidelines and recommendations about which he spoke.

“The cool part is that we (the CDC, I was just a mouthpiece) changed some of South Africa and fast-forwarded their care of TBI and mTBI decades,” Paulk said. “They believe it will spread to others in the medical community as well. Very neat to help change a country for the better.”

In related news, the CDC workgroup of which Paulk is a member has two articles to be published in The Journal of the American Medical Association this year or early next year regarding their clinical guidelines and recommendations on mTBI.