Injury epidemiology of U.S. Army Special Operations forces

Mil Med. 2014 Oct;179(10):1106-12. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00078.


Musculoskeletal injuries have long been a problem in general purpose forces, yet anecdotal evidence provided by medical, human performance, and training leadership suggests musculoskeletal injuries are also a readiness impediment to Special Operations Forces (SOF). The purpose of this study was to describe the injury epidemiology of SOF utilizing self-reported injury histories. Data were collected on 106 SOF (age: 31.7 ± 5.3 years, height: 179.0 ± 5.5 cm, mass: 85.9 ± 10.9 kg) for 1 year before the date of laboratory testing and filtered for total injuries and those with the potential to be preventable based on injury type, activity, and mechanism. The frequency of musculoskeletal injuries was 24.5 injuries per 100 subjects per year for total injuries and 18.9 injuries per 100 subjects per year for preventable injuries. The incidence of musculoskeletal injuries was 20.8 injured subjects per 100 subjects per year for total injuries and 16.0 injured subjects per 100 subjects per year for preventable injuries. Preventable musculoskeletal injuries comprised 76.9% of total injuries. Physical training (PT) was the most reported activity for total/preventable injuries (PT Command Organized: 46.2%/60.0%, PT Noncommand Organized: 7.7%/10.0%, PT Unknown: 3.8%/5.0%). Musculoskeletal injuries impede optimal physical readiness/tactical training in the SOF community. The data suggest a significant proportion of injuries are classified as preventable and may be mitigated with human performance programs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Knee Injuries / epidemiology
  • Ligaments, Articular / injuries
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / education
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Running / injuries
  • Self Report
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult