Musculoskeletal injuries in British Army recruits: a prospective study of diagnosis-specific incidence and rehabilitation times

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015 May 4:16:106. doi: 10.1186/s12891-015-0558-6.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cohort Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fractures, Stress / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Stress / etiology
  • Fractures, Stress / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / rehabilitation
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rehabilitation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult