Description and rate of musculoskeletal injuries in Air Force basic military trainees, 2012-2014

Michelle R Milner, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Musculoskeletal injuries are a common cause of training delay and completion failure in all U.S. military training environments. Air Force basic training requires a rapid fitness ramp up over the span of eight weeks. This descriptive epidemiologic study with cross-sectional features provides current injury rates and patterns as well as associated costs in the Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) setting. Demographic, baseline fitness, and injury data for all basic trainees who entered training between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2014 was reviewed and stratified into two groups: trainees who sustained injuries and trainees who did not sustain injuries during BMT. During this time, 12.5% of the 67,525 trainees sustained one or more musculoskeletal injuries, with “pain in joint, lower leg” (n=3,003) being the most common diagnosis. Additionally, injured trainees were 2.88 times (95% CI, 2.72-3.04) as likely to graduate late or 3.01 times (95% CI, 2.85-3.18) as likely to not graduate at all. Medical and therapy encounters during the surveillance period generated $8,660,472 cost to the Air Force. Indirect costs due to medical hold or discharge from the Air Force cost an additional $29,850,000. This study confirms previous findings that female sex and lower aerobic and muscular fitness are associated with an increased risk for injury while indicating that injury rates are declining somewhat. With this injury-type data set, preventive measures for highest incidence injuries, predominantly those associated with lower extremities, can be put in place in order to decrease morbidity, training pipeline delays, and financial loss.

Subject Area

Public health|Kinesiology|Military studies|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Milner, Michelle R, "Description and rate of musculoskeletal injuries in Air Force basic military trainees, 2012-2014" (2015). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10109672.