Background: Musculoskeletal injuries during initial military training are a significant medical problem facing military organisations globally. In order to develop an injury management programme, this study aims to quantify the incidence and rehabilitation times for injury specific diagnoses.
Methods: This was a prospective follow-up study of musculoskeletal injuries in 6608 British Army recruits during a 26-week initial military training programme over a 2-year period. Incidence and rehabilitation times for injury specific diagnoses were recorded and analysed.
Results: During the study period the overall incidence of musculoskeletal injuries was 48.6%, and the most common diagnosis was iliotibial band syndrome (6.2%). A significant proportion of the injuries occurred during the first 11 weeks of the programme. The longest rehabilitation times were for stress fractures of the femur, calcaneus and tibia (116 ± 17 days, 92 ± 12 days, and 85 ± 11 days, respectively). The combination of high incidence and lengthy rehabilitation indicates that medial tibial stress syndrome had the greatest impact on training, accounting for almost 20% of all days spent in rehabilitation.
Conclusion: When setting prevention priorities consideration should be given to both the incidence of specific injury diagnoses and their associated time to recovery.