A Review of Physiotherapy Records to Characterise MSK Injury in Australian Soldiers

Research Paper Title

Review of Physiotherapy Records to Characterise Musculoskeletal Injury in Australian Soldiers in the 16th Air Defence Regiment.

Background

There is scant information on the types of musculoskeletal injuries, their causes and injury patterns that are sustained by Australian garrison soldiers (a permanent military post or place where troops are stationed). Rigorous physical training, manually emplacing weapon systems and daily military duties carried out by soldiers of the 16th Air Defence Regiment reflect  the types of injuries observed in this study. It defines the injury patterns for trained soldiers and addresses those aspects of injury and mechanism of injury, forming the basis for further research targeted at injury prevention.

Purpose

To identify the predominant musculoskeletal injuries sustained by soldiers of the 16th Air Defence Regiment and to explore the relationship between the type of injury and subunit as well as the relationship between type of injury and cause. This is important so that remedial measures can be engaged in an attempt to reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal injury to Australian soldiers, to maintain the regimental fighting strength and deployable status and to reduce the financial burden of rehabilitation and compensation borne by the Australian Defence Force and the Federal Government.

Methods

All patients were trained serving soldiers of the 16th Air Defence Regiment and were referred by the Medical Officer for physiotherapy treatment. On conclusion of a course of treatment, a physiotherapy patient discharge summary (PM 528) was written and it is from these summaries that the demographic data for this study was extracted, which included the type of musculoskeletal injury (diagnosis), cause of that injury and the subunit that the soldier belonged to in the 16th Air Defence Regiment during the years 2008 to 2010.  Tests of significance based on the chi-square test statistic were carried out at the 0.05 significance level using Minitab 16 statistical software. When the chi-square test of independence was  significant, then the source of the dependence  was  investigated by analysis of standardised residuals for each cell.

Results

Five predominant types or areas of injury sustained by Australian soldiers of the 16th Air Defence Regiment were identified to be neck, low back, ankle, patella and knee ligament. The frequency of low back injuries was found to be significantly higher than the other types of injury (chi-square goodness of fit test, p < 0.001, then analysis of standardised residuals with Bonferroni adjustment).  There was insufficient evidence of a relationship between type of injury and subunit (chi-square test of independence, p = 0.33). Five predominant causes of musculoskeletal injury were identified to be biomechanical, work, running, sports and physical training.  Evidence of a relationship between type of injury and cause was found to be statistically significant (chi-square test of independence, p < 0.001) in the cause ‘sports’, which is associated with a relatively higher frequency of ankle inversion injuries, and ‘running’, which is associated with a relatively higher frequency of patella-femoral joint injuries (p < 0.002).

Conclusions

This is the first full review of data on musculoskeletal injuries sustained by Australian soldiers of the 16th Air Defence Regiment. Types of musculoskeletal injuries and causes were analysed and patterns of injury were identified.  Measures can now be drawn up with the aim of injury prevention.  Key words: Injuries to garrison soldiers, Low back injury, Neck injury, Ankle injury, Patella-femoral joint injury, Knee ligament injury.

Reference

Sellentin, R. & Sanchez, P. (2011) Review of Physiotherapy Records to Characterise Musculoskeletal Injury in Australian Soldiers in the 16th Air Defence Regiment. Journal of Military and Veteran’s Health. 19(4).

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