Army researches injury prevention in men, women at Fort Sam

Agility, power tests can predict if soldiers will get hurt


Strange-looking tests being done on U.S. Army personnel at Fort Sam are providing valuable data to military researchers.

Lt. Col. Scott Shaffer is directing a study that started four years ago.

"The one thing we're really trying to promote now is musculoskeletal screening," Shaffer said.

The goal of the study is to find simple ways to predict whether a soldier is prone to injury.

"Our tests are really aimed at trying to look at each individual and see do they have a movement pattern that predisposes them to injury," Shaffer said.

As for women, he has found that they are no more likely than men to be susceptible to injuries.

That is good news for women who want to go to combat.

That is one thing Lt. Robin Trachtenberg can do without.

"No, it's not really my thing," Trachtenberg said.

But she said she would not mind going to the front lines to help with combat injuries.

"I like the idea of physical therapists going with combat units," Trachtenberg said.

This kind of research is not only being done at Fort Sam Houston, it was also done in the state of Washington.

There 1,500 troops were put through agility testing at Fort Lewis McChord.

Shaffer said tests like these may someday be able to determine who is suitable to perform at the front or in any other job.

They would be selected not by gender or age or desire but by physical ability.

"Do we need to have a deployment related test or a skills set test that would really say are you fit to go and fight and do what you need to do," Shaffer said. And that could save dollars and lives.

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