Objectives: To describe the rate and distribution of injuries during basic training in male and female cadets and to assess the contribution of pretraining conditioning and height to the male-female differential in injuries.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: The US Military Academy, West Point, NY.
Participants: A total of 558 cadets from the class of 1995 at the US Military Academy.
Main outcome measures: The rate of injuries resulting in 1 or more days excused from physical activities per 100 cadets and the rate of injuries resulting in hospitalization of 1 night or longer per 100 cadets.
Results: Women had 2.5 times the rate of injuries as men and 3.9 times the rate of injuries resulting in hospitalization. Women had significantly more stress fractures and stress reactions than men. The median number of days excused from physical activities for women's injuries was significantly higher than that from men's injuries. Pretraining conditioning, measured by performance on a 2-mile (3.2-km) run, accounted for approximately half the difference in rates of injuries between men and women; differences in height among men and women did not account for differences in injury rates.
Conclusions: The women had a higher risk for injury during military training than men. Increased pretraining conditioning may substantially decrease the risk for injury.