Injuries suffered by Australian Army recruits completing basic training

Ben Schram, Rob Marc Orr, Rodney R Pope

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Musculoskeletal injuries are a major problem in military personnel as they detract from force readiness, are of high financial burden and may lead to an inability to deploy. Injuries during basic training occur at three times the rate of any other time, thought to be due to low initial levels of fitness, prior injury history and a sudden increase in physical activity. In addition, injury rates of part time personnel are reportedly higher than those of full time personnel; although unexplored in recruit training populations. The aim of this research was to investigate injuries sustained by recruits undergoing basic recruit training and to explore potential differences between full-time (Australian Regular Army [ARA]) recruits completing the 80-day basic recruit course and part-time (Army Reserve [ARES]) recruits completing the 28-day reserve recruit course.

Methods: Reported injuries were obtained from the Department of Defence Workplace Health, Safety, Compensation and Reporting database covering the period July 2012 to June 2014. Outcomes of interest included natures of injuries, injury mechanisms, activities being performed at the time of injury and body location of injury both as a complete cohort and by employment status.

Results: There were 1,479 incidents reported over the two-year period during basic training with 89.5% occurring in ARA and 10.5% in ARES personnel. Of the ARA incidents, 1192 (90%) were minor personal injuries and 43 (3.2%) were serious personal injuries. In the ARES personnel 147 Minor Personal Injuries were reported (94.8%) and 3 Serious Personal Injuries were reported (1.9%). In both ARA and ARES personnel the most common activity in which injury occurred was Physical Training (ARA = 41.5%: ARES = 32%). The knee was the most commonly injured site (ARA = 13.4%: ARES = 14.6%) followed by the ankle (ARA = 11.5%: ARES = 8.2%) and the lower leg (ARA = 10.3%: ARES 11.6%). These injuries were predominately soft tissue injuries (ARA = 60.9%: ARES = 69.3%) due to muscular stress with no objects being handled (ARA = 41.7%: ARES = 36%).

Conclusions: These results are in agreement with other published studies which have found injuries during military training are most commonly at or below the knee, that physical training is the highest activity in which injury occurs. The activities in which injuries occur, the anatomical location in which injuries occur, the type and nature of injuries in basic training are similar amongst both ARA and ARES recruits when attending their respective recruit training courses. Therefore, interventions aimed at decreasing injuries in basic training amongst Australian Army personnel would be beneficial for both employment types.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)s90
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue numbers2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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