COE researcher looks to help police officers’ health

Research isn’t just for academic curiosity. It helps individuals live better, healthier lives.

Todd CastleberryDr. Todd Castleberry, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology in Louisiana Tech’s College of Education, is working with Tech’s nursing department, Tech Police and the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department to compare blood pressure changes in officers while they wear a duty belt versus a load bearing vest.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine blood pressure with the two different apparatuses,” Castleberry said. “A full duty belt can weigh up to 30 pounds and to keep that much weight in place, the belt must be tight, causing constriction. Most police officers work a 12-hour shift and if their gear leads to increased blood pressure, police officers could develop chronic high blood pressure that can lead to cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Donna Hood, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Division of Nursing, said her division appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from kinesiology.

“Health promotion is a key area of focus for nurses,” Hood said. “Collaborative approaches strengthen the richness of our research and this study has the potential to address specific health considerations for our law enforcement community.”

Castleberry said the research idea came from his best friend, a police officer and Tech alumnus, who has high blood pressure when wearing a duty belt – but has a healthy blood pressure immediately after removing the belt.

“I love the heart and all the science behind blood pressure,” he said. “I’ve been a part of multiple studies examining blood pressure, blood volume, and thermodynamics. This study is a simple study but should provide us with some much-needed information into cardiovascular health.”

Dr. David Szymanski, kinesiology department chair and professor, said this project will be beneficial to the law enforcement community.

“Dr. Castleberry’s research project will help answer a very basic question as to which type of equipment is better to wear for law enforcement officers,” Szymanski said. “If that can be determined, it will help enhance the work environment by improving their health on the job by lowering blood pressure and potentially make wearing the equipment more comfortable.”

COE Dean Dr. Don Schillinger said Castleberry has been a valuable researcher to the college and the community at large.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Castleberry has joined the College of Education,” Schillinger said. “His research and teaching are already having a positive impact in many areas, including this collaboration with our law enforcement heroes.”

Castleberry added that he has enjoyed working with the police departments and hopes he can continue officer research with future studies.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with our local police departments,” Castleberry said. “We know their job is stressful enough and we want to do everything we can to help with their health and well-being.”