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Comparison of injuries between US Army paratroopers and their non-paratrooper soldier counterparts
  1. Veronique D Hauschild1,
  2. C A Rappole1,
  3. L J Forrest2,
  4. E O Dada1,
  5. M R Beymer2,
  6. T Grier1 and
  7. B H Jones1
  1. 1Military Injury Prevention Division, US Army Public Health Command Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Army Satellite Support - Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, Defense Health Agency, Falls Church, Virginia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Ms Veronique D Hauschild, US Army Public Health Command Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance, Aberdeen Proving Ground, 21010-5402, MD, USA; veronique.d.hauschild.civ{at}mail.mil

Abstract

Introduction Military studies have investigated acute injuries associated with parachute jumps, but the literature does not address paratroopers’ cumulative microtraumatic (CMT) injury risk, nor does it compare injury risks between paratroopers and the rest of the military population. This study determined whether US active duty Army paratroopers experienced greater injury risks than their non-paratrooper soldier counterparts and whether their injuries cost more to treat suggesting greater injury severity.

Methods This retrospective study evaluated electronic medical records (2016–2018) for 31 621 paratroopers and a randomly selected comparison group of 170 715 non-paratrooper soldiers. Analyses included univariate and multivariate regression to quantify odds of injuries associated with risk variables and additional descriptive statistics.

Results Paratroopers had a 57% increase in the odds of experiencing one or more injuries (OR=1.57, 95% CI: 1.52 to 1.62) after controlling for sex, race and age, with a greater proportion of acute injuries (OR=1.38, 95% CI: 1.34 to 1.42), relative to comparison group soldiers. Injury types proportionally higher among paratroopers included head trauma and shoulder injuries. Average injury cost among paratroopers was 13% lower than for non-paratroopers ($2470 vs $2830 per injury). Among both populations, acute injury costs were notably higher than for CMT injuries (paratroopers, $1710/$630; non-paratroopers, $1860/$880 per injury).

Conclusions Paratroopers were more likely to incur injury, especially an acute injury, than non-paratroopers. However, paratroopers’ average injury costs were less. This may be due to higher return-to-duty motivations, fitness levels, and/or facility-specific cost of care. Future studies should investigate causes of injuries found to be proportionally higher among paratroopers.

  • accident & emergency medicine
  • aviation medicine
  • epidemiology
  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • orthopaedic & trauma surgery
  • preventive medicine

Data availability statement

No data are available. Data are not available. This US Army injury surveillance investigation relies on the routine monitoring of data from soldiers' personal medical records. These data are deidentified and aggregated for purposes of reporting and publication.

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Data availability statement

No data are available. Data are not available. This US Army injury surveillance investigation relies on the routine monitoring of data from soldiers' personal medical records. These data are deidentified and aggregated for purposes of reporting and publication.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors VDH planned the study and drafted the documents. CAR and LJF conducted analyses and provided review. EOD advised on methodology and assisted with analyses. MRB and TG advised on methodology, assisted with analyses and reviewed the manuscript. BHJ advised on methodology, provided clinical and epidemiological input, and reviewed the manuscript.

  • 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.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the US Department of Defense, US Department of the Army, US Army Medical Department or the US Government. Use of trademarked names does not imply endorsement.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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