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Musculoskeletal injury in military specialists: a 2-year retrospective study
  1. Debra Hayhurst1,
  2. M Warner2,
  3. M Stokes2 and
  4. J Fallowfield3
  1. 1 Rehab Division, DMRC Stanford Hall, Loughborough, UK
  2. 2 School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  3. 3 Head of Applied Physiology, Environmental and Science Division, Institute of Naval Medicine, Gosport, UK
  1. Correspondence to Maj Debra Hayhurst, DMRC Stanford Hall, Loughborough, UK; Debra.hayhurst817{at}


Background Military specialists are elite personnel who are trained to work across diverse operational environments where a high level of physical conditioning is a prerequisite for their role. Anecdotally, personnel are acknowledged to be at high risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries (MSKIs). However, there are presently no published data on this UK military population to support this view. This is the first (2-year) retrospective epidemiological study to identify the MSKI sustained by this military population.

Methods All MSKI reported over a 2-year period (January 2018–December 2019) were recorded to identify the incidence, frequency, nature, onset, cause, location and reporting times. Injuries were described using injury count and relative frequency (percentage). Time at risk for each personnel day was calculated as 365 days.

Results A total of 199 personnel reported 229 injuries over the reporting periods. The injury incidence rates were 26.8 personnel per 100 person years (2018) and 27.7 personnel per 100 person years (2019), respectively. Military training accounted for the highest number of injuries (32%), followed by ‘other injuries’ (28%), personal training (28%) and sport (12%). The leading activity associated with injury was weight training (15%), followed by running (11%) and military exercise (10%). Lower extremity injuries accounted for the highest number of injuries (40%), followed by trunk (36%) and upper extremity (24%) injuries.

Conclusion This study identifies the MSKI profile of a military specialist population over a 2-year period. Areas where modifiable risk factors may be identified to reduce risk of injury are highlighted. Recommendations for further research include investigating injury burden and the impact of injury on operational readiness.

  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • Sports medicine

Data availability statement

No data are available. In accordance with Ministry of Defence policy, no data are available for this study.

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Data availability statement

No data are available. In accordance with Ministry of Defence policy, no data are available for this study.

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  • Contributors DH designed the study; contributed to the data collection, data analysis and data interpretation; and prepared the manuscript. MW, MS and JF designed the study; contributed to the data analysis and data interpretation, and prepared the manuscript. DH is guarantor for the study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.