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Mil Med. 2013 Aug;178(8):e937-43. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-12-00539.

A comparison of deployed occupational tasks performed by different types of military battalions and resulting low back pain.

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U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, 15 Kansas St., Natick, MA 01760, USA.


With deployment Soldiers must now wear body armor and additional equipment while performing occupational tasks, representing a large demand that has not been considered when studying military occupations. The purpose of this study was to: (1) describe tasks required by different occupational battalions within a Brigade Combat Team; (2) establish the incidence of low back pain (LBP) in each battalion and; (3) determine which tasks predict LBP within the different battalions. This was a prospective cohort study investigating 805 Soldiers in a Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan for 1 year. Demographic, occupational, and fitness variables were recorded. There was no difference in time spent on fitness training between the battalions. Occupational tasks performed by deployed Soldiers vary in the level of physical demand between battalions. Infantry had the highest fitness score (257); wore the heaviest equipment (70 lb.); spent the most time wearing body armor (49 hours/week), performing dismounted patrol (29 hours/week), and lifting objects (35 hours/week); spent the least amount of time working at a desk (14 hours/week); but had a similar incidence of LBP (77%) compared to other battalions. History of LBP and time spent wearing body armor were the two most consistent predictors of LBP across battalion types.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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