Introduction: This investigation examined risk factors for injuries during military parachute training and solicited attitudes and opinions regarding a parachute ankle brace (PAB) that has been shown to protect against ankle injuries.
Methods: Male Army airborne students (N = 1677) completed a questionnaire after they had successfully executed 4 of the 5 jumps necessary for qualification as a military paratrooper. The questionnaire asked about injuries during parachute descents, demographics, lifestyle characteristics, physical characteristics, physical fitness, airborne recycling (i.e., repeating airborne training because of failure to qualify on a previous attempt), PAB wear, problems with aircraft exits, and injuries in the year before airborne school. A final section of the questionnaire solicited open-ended comments about the PAB.
Results: Increased risk of a parachute-related injury occurred among students who had longer time in service, were older, taller, heavier, performed fewer push-ups, ran slower, were airborne recycles, did not wear the PAB, had an aircraft exit problem, and/or reported an injury in the year prior to jump school. Among students who wore the brace, most negative comments about the PAB had to do with design, comfort, and difficulties during parachute landing falls.
Conclusions: This study supported some previously identified injury risk factors (older age, greater body weight, and not using a PAB) and identified a number of new risk factors. To address PAB design and comfort issues, a strap is being added over the dorsum of the foot to better hold the PAB in place.