Introduction: Injuries sustained by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel during non-combat military training and sports activity are associated with increasing costs due to work days lost, medical treatment, compensation, and early retirement. In 2001, the ADF commissioned a systematic review of the evidence-base for reducing injuries associated with physical activity, while at the same time improving physical activity participation rates to sustain a trained, fit and deployable workforce.
Method: Literature from on-line library databases, relevant unclassified military reports, and material from previously published sport-specific injury countermeasure reviews were systematically and critically analysed to address the study aims.
Results: Modification of intensity, frequency and duration of basic military training activities and improved equipment is likely to reduce injury occurrence. Sports injury countermeasures used for the civilian population have merit for the ADF physical activity program. Injury countermeasures should be designed to minimise any possible deterrent effect on the motivation to participate in regular physical activity. Increasing the participation of ADF personnel in physical activity in the presence of evidence-based injury prevention strategies has the potential to increase health, fitness and deployability with minimal impact on injury frequency.
Conclusion: Recommendations arising from the review include injury intervention trials in basic military training and sports. These and other interventions should be supported by refinement to ADF injury surveillance systems. Research should focus on interventions with the greatest gain for fitness, deployability, and cost effectiveness.