Article reposted from U.S. Army
Author: Reginald Rogers
As new recruits train to become Infantrymen and Armor Soldiers, their level of pre-training fitness is oftentimes a decisive factor when it comes to their susceptibility to injury.
Some injuries, depending on their severity, can determine whether or not they even complete their training, which is why the Army has placed individual athletic trainers, who are musculoskeletal care specialists, within its training battalions at Fort Benning. The goal is to ensure that prospective Soldiers receive the best in injury prevention.
Currently 20 contracted athletic trainers serve all five of Fort Benning’s training brigades. Their inclusion has been instrumental in educating Soldiers on injury prevention, but the musculoskeletal specialists also provide treatment to injured Soldiers to reduce their recovery time.
“When trainees are being seen by [the trainers] at the battalions, instead of at the Troop Medical Clinic, and they can be properly managed, we’re saving a significant amount of time for training units,” explained Maj. John Ko, chief of physical therapy at Martin Army Community Hospital.
According to Ko, the trainers are contracted through a company to serve within the installation’s training environment, as well as at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
“Essentially, our athletic trainers are the first line to providing (musculoskeletal) care to Soldiers in training,” he said. “They’re teaming up with physical therapists at each of those locations to form (musculoskeletal) stations within the battalion stations.”
Ko pointed out that many of the injuries that are trending in the training environment include those to the lower extremities, such as knee and shin pains, and ankle sprains.
“What we really want to focus on is ensuring that we provide the right care to prospective Soldiers with hip injuries,” he said.
According to Ko, the forward musculoskeletal care program has been a part of Army medicine for quite some time. Not only does it provide musculoskeletal care, but it also collects entry data to provide real-time, actionable injury trends reporting.
“If the command group sees a pattern or trend for a particular week of training, the commander has the ability to adjust or reduce an injury-causing activity for the next training cycle, which should reduce the amount of those common injuries,” Ko explained.
Because, at the end of the day, training will always involve some risk of injury, and it’s not necessarily the health providers who can do the most to prevent injuries; it’s the leaders, the commanders and noncommissioned officers.
“As health care professionals, we educate those decision-makers so that they can make better decisions to hopefully, mitigate some of those injuries,” Ko said.