The effect of light armour systems on the power development, agility, balance and movement of police officers

Ben Schram, Rob Marc Orr, Rodney R Pope

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterResearchpeer-review

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Background: The wearing of Individual Light Armour Vests (ILAVs) by police officers is increasing with this requirement due to occupational hazards including blunt trauma, stabbing and light calibre bullets. It is unclear how addition of this extra load will affect the officer’s mobility, movement, balance ability and therefore subsequent injury risk and return-to-work requirements. Purpose: The aim of this investigation was to determine the effects of three different ILAVs on the power, agility balance and movement of police officers when compared to wearing their normal station wear (N). Methods: A prospective, repeated measures, study was performed with each officer (n=11) wearing one of three different types of ILAVs (weight 3.24±0.48 - 4.12±0.65kg) or normal station wear (N) each for an entire day. The officers were assessed for their ability to generate power with a vertical jump (VJ), a Counter Movement Jump (CMJ) and a 20m sprint, for agility with the Illinois Agility Test, for postural sway using a force plate, and for structural movement ability with the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Results: There were no significant differences between any of the ILAVs in VJ height, time to complete the agility test, 20 m sprint time, and in the peak force, velocity, power or jump height in the CMJ. There was a significantly (p<.05) higher mean force produced in the CMJ while wearing all three ILAVs.There were no significant differences in any of the balance measures between any of the ILAV or N load conditions at any time of day. Significant differences were found between various components of the FMS, including (R) Straight Leg Raise, (L) Shoulder Mobility and both (R) and (L) quad rotary stability. Conclusion: The ILAVs investigated do not appear to be heavy enough to significantly affect the power, agility or balance of police officers when compared to normal station wear. It appears as though body armour can significantly affect police officer mobility as measured by the FMS and therefore may contribute to injury risk. Implication: The wearing of ILAVs by police officers does not appear to hinder policing tasks that involve agility or rapid power development any more than normal station wear. Body armour should be carefully selected to ensure it does not contribute to injury risk nor detract from occupational performance and should be considered in return-to-work planning. Keywords: personal protective equipment, load, law enforcement, occupational health and safety
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2019
EventWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress 2019: WCPT 2019 - Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 10 May 201913 May 2019


ConferenceWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress 2019
Abbreviated titleWCPT2019
Internet address


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