Purpose This prospective cohort study examined injuries and injury risk factors in 660 British Army infantry soldiers during a predeployment training cycle.
Methods Soldiers completed a questionnaire concerning physical characteristics, occupational factors, lifestyle characteristics (including physical training time) and previous injury. Direct measurements included height, body mass, sit-ups, push-ups and run time. Electronic medical records were screened for injuries over a 1-year period before operational deployment. Backward-stepping Cox regression calculated HR and 95% CI to quantify independent injury risk factors.
Results One or more injuries were experienced by 58.5% of soldiers. The new injury diagnosis rate was 88 injuries/100 person-years. Most injuries involved the lower body (71%), especially the lower back (14%), knee (19%) and ankle (15%). Activities associated with injury included sports (22%), physical training (30%) and military training/work (26%). Traumatic injuries accounted for 83% of all injury diagnoses. Independent risk factors for any injury were younger age (17–19 years (HR 1.0), 20–24 years (HR 0.71, 95% CI 0.55 to 0.93), 25–29 years (HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.19) and 30–43 years (HR 0.41, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.63), previous lower limb injury (yes/no HR 1.49, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.87) and previous lower back injury (yes/no HR 1.30, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.63).
Conclusion British infantry injury rates were lower than those reported for US infantry (range 101–223 injuries/100 soldier-years), and younger age and previous injury were identified as independent risk factors. Future efforts should target reducing the incidence of traumatic injuries, especially those related to physical training and/or sports.
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Funding This work was funded by the Human Dimension and Medical Science domain of the Ministry of Defence scientific research programme.
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the UK Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee, reference 0736/121, 20 July 2007.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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