Medical Minute 11-10: Medics and Muscle Memory

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

Outside forward operating base *courage it's a seemingly quiet day. Then, all of a sudden - an attack on base leaves troops critically injured. Combat medics respond in seconds to treat gruesome injuries.

The blood, bombs and bullets feel real.

But they're fake. It's week 16, the final week of training for these medics. And it hasn't been easy. Army officials say each year about seven-thousand medics start the training, close to 12-hundred or just over 17-percent, don't make it to this stage. Those who do learn what it takes to keep the stress from overwhelming them.

"We tell them when that adrenaline starts pumping through your body, you can get stronger, faster and dumber," said Sgt. Michael Mazzoni, Combat Medic Instructor.

That's why they're taught to rely on their muscles instead of their minds.

"Once you get that muscle memory, in any condition, given any injury, you're ready to go," said PFC Joshua Hedman, Medic in Training.

Muscle memory is defined as the ability to memorize or perform well rehearsed motion or motor skills less consciously or more by habit. Simply put, it is your memory for motor skills. It's why you can ride a bike even if you haven't for years. Instructors say in this situation.

"Your hands should be moving without you even thinking about it."

Private Joshua Hedman tells us, that happens by doing these procedures…over and over….And over again.

"you don't even have to think about what our next step is."

Doing instead of thinking, plus their own ingenuity could be what helps these medics save lives overseas and they learn it all right here.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500,


BACKGROUND: The "68 Whiskey" military occupational specialty is the second-largest in the Army. The main role of the 68W10 in the United States Army is to provide medical treatment to wounded soldiers. Whiskeys are staples in the functionality of the US Army, as every squad is required to have a Whiskey in attendance when going on any hazardous mission. Line medics are typically assigned by platoon or battery, not by squad. Thus, one medic may be responsible for 40 or 50 soldiers in a combat arms (infantry, field artillery or engineer) unit. Whiskeys initiate medical treatment at the accident or injury location, maintain medical treatment during evacuation to healthcare facilities, and provide medical treatment in the medical facilities themselves. (

MUSCLE MEMORY: Muscle memory can best be described as a type of movement with which the muscles become familiar over time. Although the precise mechanism of muscle memory is unknown, what is theorized is that anyone learning a new activity, or practicing an old one has significant brain activity during this time. When you learn something new, whether it's how to do a split squat or how to snowboard, your brain fires up all the right motor units (nerves that signal muscle fibers to kick in) to help you perform the movements. Once your muscle fibers get the memo from your brain to move, they start sending messages back.

For More Information, Contact:

Phillip Reidinger,
PAO Army Medical Department Center and School
(201) 221-8580

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