Special Issue of Journal of Athletic Training Focuses on Tactical Athletes: Reducing Risk of Injury and Improving Patient Care for Military, Firefighters and Police
DALLAS, January 11, 2017 – A new special issue of the Journal of Athletic Training focuses on tactical athletes – those in service professions such as the military, firefighting and law enforcement. They often face stressful, rigorous and demanding challenges, frequently under life-threatening conditions, while carrying heavy gear. The Journal of Athletic Training is the scientific publication of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
“Athletic trainers have been working with this population, especially military service members, for decades,” said special issue Co-Guest Editor JoEllen Sefton, PhD, ATC, director of Auburn University’s Warrior Research Center, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Neuromechanics Research Laboratory. “We work with all the military branches, from the military academies to recruits to special forces. Implementing a sports medicine model of injury prevention and treatment to improve performance is vital and has been proven effective.”
"As members of the military, our goal is to succeed in a complex and uncertain environment. Our tactical athletes need to be physically ready for the rigors of their profession and athletic trainers are an essential component of facilitating this," said Lt. Col. Todd Burkhardt, PhD, co-guest editor and director and professor of military science for Army ROTC, Indiana University, Bloomington.
- Musculoskeletal injuries are the single largest impediment to operational readiness in the military.1
- Between 19 percent and 44 percent of Army trainees1 and 12.5 percent of Air Force trainees2 sustain a musculoskeletal injury. These injuries lead to thousands of lost training hours. In Army trainees, chronic knee injuries are the most common overuse injury, accounting for up to 44 percent of all injuries.3 Lateral ankle sprains are the most common type of acute injury.
- According to the Department of Defense, more than 800,000 military service members are injured each year, leading to an estimated 25 million days of limited duty annually.4 Most of these injuries are musculoskeletal and affect the lower extremity. They range from minor strains and contusions to major ligament sprains and bone fractures. Although the more severe injuries can lead to significant loss of training time, even mild injuries can result in decreased participation in training, sport and exercise, which could contribute to a lack of readiness, poorer overall fitness and obesity.
The entire special issue of the Journal of Athletic Training is available online at: http://natajournals.org/toc/attr/51/11?code=nata-site. The issue also includes an Editorial: Rationale for Embedded Musculoskeletal Care in Air Force Training and Operational Units.
Here are a few key points from select studies published in the issue:
- Between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2014, the Air Force trained 67,525 recruits in basic military training. Of these, 12.5 percent sustained one or more musculoskeletal injuries.
- Injured trainees were 3.01 times as likely to be discharged, and injured trainees who did graduate were 2.88 times as likely to graduate late.
- During the surveillance period, injuries resulted in more than $21.8 million per year in medical ($4.3 million) and nonmedical ($17.5 million) costs.
- Knee overuse injuries are common in training, active-duty and reserve military personnel.
- Individuals with knee overuse injuries have lower absolute and normalized hip muscle strength compared with asymptomatic controls.
- These findings from a meta-analysis (January 2000-January 2013 including 25 studies) suggest a possible link between lower extremity strength and knee overuse injuries.
- The Army 1-1-1 Physical Fitness Test is commonly conducted by Army training units and can be used to screen for those initial entry training soldiers most likely to be injured.
- This assessment requires no additional specialized equipment, personnel or time, unlike other screening methods now being tested.
- The results allowed for specialized predictions of musculoskeletal injuries to personnel in armor, infantry, cavalry and basic combat training programs of instruction.
“Working with tactical athletes brings special challenges and unique rewards compared with other populations,” said Sefton. “The goal of this special issue is to share some lessons learned from working with these exceptional athletes who dedicate their lives to serving us.”
Complete list of articles:
1Prediction of Injuries and Injury Types in Army Basic Training, Infantry, Armor, and Cavalry Trainees Using a Common Fitness Screen. JoEllen M. Sefton, PhD, ATC; K. R. Lohse, PhD; J. S. McAdam, MS. 2016;51(11):849–857; doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-51.9.09
2Description and Rate of Musculoskeletal Injuries in Air Force Basic Military Trainees, 2012–2014. Nathaniel S. Nye, MD; Mary T. Pawlak, MD, MPH; Bryant J. Webber, MD, MPH; Juste N. Tchandja, PhD, MPH; Michelle R. Milner, MD. 2016;51(11):858–865; doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-51.10.10
3A Meta-Analysis to Determine if Lower Extremity Muscle Strengthening Should Be Included in Military Knee Overuse Injury-Prevention Programs. Roger O. Kollock, PhD, ATC, CSCS; Corey Andrews, MEd, ATC; Ashlyn Johnston, MEd, ATC; Teresa Elliott, MEd, ATC; Alan E. Wilson, PhD; Kenneth E. Games, PhD, LAT, ATC; JoEllen M. Sefton, PhD, ATC 2016;51(11):919–926; doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-51.4.09
4Risk of Lower Extremity Injury in a Military Cadet Population After a Supervised Injury-Prevention Program. Scott D. Carow, DSc, PT, OCS, SCS; Eric M. Haniuk, BS; Kenneth L. Cameron, PhD, MPH, ATC; Darin A. Padua, PhD, ATC; Stephen W. Marshall, PhD; Lindsay J. DiStefano, PhD, ATC; Sarah J. de la Motte, PhD, MPH, ATC; Anthony I. Beutler, MD; John P. Gerber, PhD, PT, ATC, SCS 2016;51(11):905–918; doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-49.5.22