Musculoskeletal Injuries: Elite Military Training & Dropout Rates

Research Paper Title

One out of four recruits drops out from elite military training due to musculoskeletal injuries in the Netherlands Armed Forces.

Background

Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) are among the main causes of dropout from military training.

The main purpose of this study was to provide an overview of dropout rates and MSI incidence rates during elite military training.

Second, this study aimed to explore restricted training days due to MSIs and to describe MSI-care by military physicians.

Methods

In a retrospective observational study, we collected dropout rates and injury surveillance data from the electronic patient records of two elite units of the Netherlands Armed Forces (NAF): the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (RNLMC) and the Airmobile Brigade (AMB), from 01 January 2015 until 31 December 2017.

Results

In the RNLMC, total dropout rate was 53.9% and dropout due to MSIs was 23%.

The most frequently affected locations were foot, knee and leg.

In the AMB total dropout rate was 52.6% and dropout due to MSIs was 25%. In the AMB, the most frequently affected locations were back, knee and leg.

Average restricted training days due to MSIs ranged between 8.3 and 20.8 days/injury.

MSI-care by military physicians consisted mostly of the provision of injury-specific information and (self-)management options, imposing a specific activity restriction and referral to physiotherapy.

Conclusions

The study findings showed that one out of four recruits who dropout from elite military training in the NAF, do so due to MSIs.

Redesigning training programmes with the objective to reduce MSIs should be given high priority, as this may reduce dropout substantially.

Reference

Dijksma, I., Zimmermann, W.O., Hertenberg, E.J., Lucas, C. & Stuiver, M.M. (2020) One out of four recruits drops out from elite military training due to musculoskeletal injuries in the Netherlands Armed Forces. BMJ Military Health.pii: bmjmilitary-2020-001420. doi: 10.1136/bmjmilitary-2020-001420. [Epub ahead of print].

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