Objectives: To examine the efficacy of an outside-the-boot parachute ankle brace (PAB) in reducing risk of ankle injury to army paratrooper trainees and to identify inadvertent risks associated with PAB use.
Design: The authors compared hospitalization rates for ankle, musculoskeletal, and other traumatic injury among 223 172 soldiers trained 1985–2002 in time periods defined by presence/absence of PAB use protocols. Multiple logistic regression analysis estimated adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals for injury outcomes, comparing pre and post brace periods to the brace protocol period.
Setting: A research database consisting of training rosters from the US Army Airborne training facility (Fort Benning, GA) occupational, demographic, and hospitalization information.
Main outcome measures: Injuries were considered training related if they occurred during a five week period starting with first scheduled static line parachute jump and a parachuting cause of injury code appeared in the hospital record.
Results: Of 939 parachuting related hospitalizations during the defined risk period, 597 (63.6%) included an ankle injury diagnosis, 198 (21.1%) listed a musculoskeletal (non-ankle) injury, and 69 (7.3%) cited injuries to multiple body parts. Risk of ankle injury hospitalization was higher during both pre-brace (adjusted OR 2.38, 95% CI 1.92 to 2.95) and post-brace (adjusted OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.27 to 2.32) periods compared with the brace protocol period. Odds of musculoskeletal (non-ankle) injury or injury to multiple body parts did not change between the brace and post-brace periods.
Conclusion: Use of a PAB during airborne training appears to reduce risk of ankle injury without increasing risk of other types of traumatic injury.
- DMDC, Defense Manpower Data Center
- ICD-9-CM, International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification
- IPDS, Individual Patient Data System
- PAB, parachute ankle brace
- TAIHOD, Total Army Injury and Health Outcomes Database
- evaluation studies
- risks and benefits
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