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Physical Therapy Faculty Members Publish Study on Military Injury Risk

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012

Drs. Kyle Kiesel and Phil Plisky, faculty members in the University of Evansville’s Department of Physical Therapy, are among the authors of a new study that examines injury risk identification and intervention in U.S. military members. 

The study, published in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, confirmed that by utilizing the software-based assessment Move2Perform (developed by Drs. Plisky and Kiesel), along with handheld input devices, testers can efficiently identify soldiers at risk of musculoskeletal injury and assign an intervention plan, at a time savings of well over 2,000 hours per brigade. The study also found that using the software saved 11.5 minutes per subject compared to manually assigning an intervention strategy and producing reports.

This is the first in a series of studies as part of two research grants in collaboration with researchers at U.S. Army-Baylor University. The grants, worth over $1.5 million, are aimed at creating the technology needed to give U.S. Army soldiers instant feedback on their testing and so far have been successful. After soldiers perform a series of movements that test their motor control and dynamic balance, a computer will deliver their injury risk (normal, low, medium, or high) and provides education and exercises they should do to reduce that risk.

This type of intervention is greatly needed, according to Kiesel and Plisky. From 2002-2010, musculoskeletal injuries were the leading cause of medical evacuations in the U.S. Army. They also cause more than 10 million limited-duty days per year and lead to upwards of $550 million in healthcare costs each year.

As researchers finish the data collection for this study, they will work to secure additional grant funding to develop a military-specific injury risk algorithm to more accurately identify those at increased risk. Additionally, through the Office of the Surgeon General, Fort Carson in Colorado is conducting a study to determine the best methods to reduce a soldier’s injury once he or she is identified as increased risk by the software. Next week, Plisky will travel to Fort Carson for the start of this study.

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