Filed under: Injuries
The future of Warfighter technology may someday include a high-tech “performance underwear” bodysuit that will protect soldiers from injuries, monitor vitals, and help soldiers maintain body energy while on the battlefield. This, according to an article in Wired.com, is what DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) hopes to one day accomplish. DARPA describes this so-called performance underwear concept as being an “adaptive, compliant, nearly transparent, quasi-active joint support suit,” which can “mitigate musculoskeletal injury caused by discrete dynamic events while maintaining soldier performance.” According to the official solicitation notice, the “DARPA Warrior Web program…will develop the technologies required to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic events typically found in the Warfighter's environment. This will be accomplished by a system (or web) of structures, in the form of a skin-suit, that are compliant and transparent until injury-causing conditions activate appropriate changes in the web structure.”
Sounds good…except there is one catch: Right now, military technology of this caliber doesn’t exist. The Wired article indicates that DARPA plans to introduce its future performance tool this month to a meeting of potential researchers. Their goal? To find a company that might be able to create a compliant, Warfighter-wearable, quasi-passive, adaptive suit system that can reduce injuries and retain optimal warrior performance.
A key concern for Warfighters and athletes alike is getting injured. Continuing to train through a minor injury can turn it into a major one. Even with minor injuries, it’s important to decrease inflammation and increase the range of motion at the affected joint. Two approaches to take are RICE and ISE. Start with RICE—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—to decrease inflammation. Once inflammation is minimized, ISE—ice, stretching, and exercise—helps to increase the range of motion. Using these techniques may reduce inflammation, stiffness, weakness, and/or loss of normal function. Once pain and swelling are reduced, the next step is reconditioning. Exercises that target the area of injury should promote flexibility, endurance, speed, strength, and power while progressing gradually. The main goal of reconditioning is to efficiently decrease pain and increase range of motion. Always check with your physician to rule out more serious injury before proceeding.
Chapter 12 of The US Navy Seal Guide to Fitness and Nutrition provides more detail.
Conventional wisdom suggests that running on softer surfaces is better for the body than harder surfaces. However, in a recent New York Times article, the subject of running injuries on hard versus soft surfaces was examined. Exercise physiologist Hirofumi Tanaka of the University of Texas at Austin took a deeper look at soft-surface running and said he could not find any scientific evidence that a softer surface benefits runners. Tanaka developed an interest in the topic after experiencing a running injury. When he was recovering from a knee injury, an orthopedist told him to get off the roads and hit the trails. He took that advice and twisted his ankle and aggravated the injury while running on the softer, irregular surface.
In the aftermath of his accident, Dr. Tanaka said he could not find scientific evidence supporting that a softer surface is better for runners than a hard one, nor could other experts he queried. In fact, he suggested that it makes just as much sense to reason that runners are more likely to get injured on soft surfaces, which often are irregular, than on smooth, hard ones.
Since injuries can occur in physically active individuals, here are a few tips to help you stay injury free:
- Warm-up and cool-down after exercise;
- Use proper form;
- Spread activity throughout the week, not just the weekend;
- Wear appropriate safety gear;
- Increase intensity and time gradually, and
- Cross train to prevent overuse injuries.
Click here for more information: Handout on Health. Sports Injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.
CNN.com is reporting that military medical researchers have developed a blood test that can detect if someone has suffered a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a big concern for the military, particularly milder forms, because unlike TBI, milder injuries cannot be seen on X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. Having this test would be useful not only for the military but for civilians as well.
The October 13, 2010 Health section of the New York Times has an article discussing recent research on knees, arthritis, and vigorous exercise.
There's no question that physical activity over time takes its toll; however, your body is capable of adapting to it. The question is whether this adaptation is healthy.
Each day, more than 10,000 Americans visit emergency rooms for sports and exercise-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of those who get injured are getting hurt due to being inactive and then suddenly taking on a major exercise program, such as training for a half-marathon – hence the weekend-warrior syndrome. Physorg.com has an article that provides common sense tips for avoiding the weekend-warrior pitfall of doing too much, too fast, too soon.
The Off Duty section of the Air Force Times recently published an article that looks at the popularity high-intensity fitness programs and concerns about their safety.
Photo: Blake Cable
The USA Track and Field (USATF), the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States has released a study to determine the effect of pre-run stretching on running injuries. The purpose of the study was to determine specifically if pre-run stretching of the three major leg muscle groups is beneficial for overall injury prevention or reduction.
According to the study, this was a clinical trial that involved close to 3,000 runners and the results confirm there is no difference in the risk of injury for those who stretched before running and those who did not. The study randomly assigned people to perform a specified pre-run stretching routine or to perform no pre-run stretching for a period of 3 months.