Diagnoses and mechanisms of musculoskeletal injuries in an infantry brigade combat team deployed to Afghanistan evaluated by the brigade physical therapist

Mil Med. 2011 Aug;176(8):903-8. doi: 10.7205/milmed-d-11-00006.


Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause for disability in deployed environments. Current research is limited to body region affected by the injury.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal diagnoses and mechanisms of injury (MOI) as well as associations to specific Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) in a deployed Brigade Combat Team (BCT).

Methods: Data collected on 3,066 patient encounters by the Brigade Combat Team physical therapist over 15 months were analyzed using descriptive statistics and X2 tests.

Results: Mechanical low back pain was the most common diagnosis (19%), whereas overuse was the most prevalent MOI (22%). The Infantry MOS was significantly associated with meniscal tears and pre-existing injuries, the Maintenance MOS with contusions, Signal and Transportation MOSs with weight lifting injuries, and the Administrative MOS with running injuries.

Conclusion: Different MOSs are preferentially susceptible to different diagnoses and MOIs. Therefore, different injury prevention strategies may be needed across occupations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Ankle Injuries / epidemiology
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / epidemiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / injuries
  • Military Personnel*
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Spinal Injuries / epidemiology
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology