Why focus on injury prevention and physical fitness?
Among the Army active duty population, injury is a leading cause of medical encounters with over 1 million medical encounters due to acute injuries and chronic musculoskeletal conditions annually. Approximately 275,000 Soldiers are affected each year. Injuries are also a leading health problem among Army Reserve and National Guard populations. (Defense Medical Surveillance System, 2010).
Improving physical fitness and reducing injuries among Soldiers is good for the individual, the unit, and the Army.
Physically fit and injury-free Soldiers can perform their jobs to the highest degree possible.
A physically fit, medically ready unit is best positioned for mission and operational success.
Injury prevention programs free medical resources to treat those with non-preventable and serious conditions and brings these Soldiers back to duty more quickly.
And it's feasible: USAPHC injury prevention prioritization efforts in 2002 and 2006 indicated that a top priority was prevention of physical training (PT)-related injuries, largely because such injuries are great in number, affect the entire Army population, there are proven prevention strategies to reduce such injuries, and it’s feasible to implement programs addressing PT-related injury prevention (Ruscio et al., Am J Prev Med, 2010; 38(1S):S19-S33).
Health Promotion & Wellness Initiatives
The focus of the Health Promotion and Wellness initiatives within LOE 3 is on physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and tobacco free living. These three health promotion areas were selected because they impact injury risk and human performance and are in alignment with the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy. Soldiers who engage in regular physical activity, maintain a healthy weight and live tobacco free build personal health, reduce their risk of injury, and improve their unit’s physical readiness.
Support of installation-based programs helps to address the health promotion and wellness needs of Soldiers and their Families:
In addition to installation-level programs, a number of nutrition, tobacco cessation, and physical fitness and training programs and resources are available.
Injury Prevention & Human Performance Optimization Initiatives
Two key barriers to medical readiness are injuries and poor physical fitness. Identification and evaluation of injury prevention and human performance optimization programs are vital to avoid these barriers. Access to effective injury prevention and human performance optimization programs is important for all Active Duty, Reserve component and National Guard Soldiers.
The Army is currently evaluating promising injury prevention and human performance optimization initiatives in training and operational environments.
- The Initial Entry Training Soldier Athlete Initiative provides company-level injury surveillance to assist commanders with identification of units with effective injury prevention programs (i.e. those with consistently lower injury rates).
- For the first time, the Army is evaluating the effects of Physical Readiness Training and other training programs on injury and physical fitness within operational units. These evaluations are being led by the Army Public Health Command Injury Prevention Program.
More information on injury prevention and physical fitness and training.
Unit-Based & MTF Medical Management & Rehabilitation Programs
Identifying injuries quickly is important so that appropriate care and management can be initiated as soon as possible, preventing further complications. The ultimate goal of early identification and treatment of injuries is to maximize the Soldier’s function. Unit-based and MTF-based programs provide early identification and management of injuries, return Soldiers to duty quickly, and optimize a medically ready force.
- Standardized e-Profiles, sick slips and reconditioning programs are used to facilitate unit physical training and improve communication between providers and unit leaders.
- Based on best practices and evidence, development of Screening and Referral Tools assists primary care providers in appropriately managing patients with acute injuries and conditions. Learn more about Musculoskeletal Screening and Referral Tools .
- In addition, the Army is evaluating the effects of Musculoskeletal Action Teams, advanced physical training and reconditioning teams at the battalion and brigade level that aim to reduce or lessen the severity of injuries through early identification and treatment in basic combat training and operational training environments.
Injury Prevention & Human Performance Optimization Research Efforts
Communication of findings and recommendations provides the link between research and practice necessary to implement effective injury prevention and human optimization programs. Experts from the Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine , Army Medical Research and Materiel Command , Army Public Health Command, and the Office of the Surgeon General have formed a musculoskeletal injury working group to disseminate scientific information aimed at reducing musculoskeletal injuries to both military and civilian communities.
SMR-CP Related Courses and Products:
Soldier Medical Readiness Campaign Injury Prevention/Human Performance Optimization Education Series: The Soldier Medical Readiness Campaign Injury Prevention/Human Performance Optimization Education Series is designed to provide military medical providers and staff, particularly physical therapists, and health promotion professionals with information about a variety of medical readiness topics. The Series consists of quarterly Defense Connection Online (DCO) sessions with two or more presentations from experts in the fields of injury prevention, human performance optimization, and health promotion. Courses are held quarterly. Information regarding the date and time of the next course as well as the topics to be presented will be posted as soon as they are determined.
SMR-CP Injury Prevention/Human Performance Optimization Education Series Presentations:
Physical Activity and Risks of Injuries in Civilian and Military Populations, Presented 22 March 2012 by the USAPHC Injury Prevention Program.
Public Health Approach to Injury Prevention: The U.S. Military Experience, A supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine , Vol. 38, No. 1 (p. S1-S222), January 2010
News Article: Soldiers who smoke have increased injury risk, reduced muscle endurance, 15 December 2011, Army.mil
News Article: Use caution with new running shoe technology, 3 January 2012, Army.mil
PHN No. 0312-01, What Army Leaders Should Know about Extreme Conditioning Programs
News Article: Helping Soldiers maintain a healthy weight through nutrition, 2 April 2012, Army.mil
U.S. Army Stand To! article on Extreme Conditioning Programs, 2 July 2012
Minimalist Running Shoe brochure and poster
News Article: Sports injuries in the Army: Don't get sidelined, 6 August 2012, Army.mil
News Article: Secondhand smoke - A danger in the air
U.S. Army Stand To! article on Performance Triad Pilot Program
U.S. Army Medical Command: Soldier Medical Readiness Campaign Plan 2011-2016, version 1.2, May 2011
Tactical Athlete Program aims to decrease Soldier injuries - video
Human Performance Resource Center : HPRC's human performance optimization (HPO) website is for U.S. Warfighters, their families, and those in the field of HPO who support them. The goal is Total Force Fitness - Warfighters optimized to carry out their mission as safely and effectively as possible.
Soldier Medical Readiness Campaign Plan Video - You Tube