Brace reduces ankle injuries in paratroopers
London: 5th August 2008
One doesn’t need a medical qualification to realise just how dangerous parachuting is and the global respect that countries have for their paratroopers is a reflection of the understanding of the risks they take. Despite the improvement in parachute design over the years, injuries are still, according to a 1999 review1, approximately 60 per 10,000 descents, with ankle injuries accounting for up to 43% of injuries. In 2008, GB Barrows’ prospective study in Melbourne, Australia suggested that this figure could even be higher when combat equipment was carried and greater still with tactical flying and simultaneous door exits (166 per 10,000).
The numbers per 10,000 may not seem significant, but bear in mind that each injured soldier will require at least two other paratroopers to remove him or her to safety; and possibly more, depending upon the injury and payload.
|However, recently published research by the US Army Centre for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine2 conducted over 100,000 parachute jumps compared a group wearing the Parachute Ankle Brace (Aircast Jump Brace) with a control group. The study set out to prove the effectiveness of the use of ankle braces among paratroopers during military parachute training.
Statistical analysis showed that students not wearing the Parachute Ankle Brace (PAB) were twice as likely to experience an ankle sprain, 1.83 times more likely to suffer an ankle fracture and 1.92 times more likely to experience an ankle injury of any type. Similar results were seen by Aircast Jump Brace wearers when monitoring lower body injuries exclusive of the ankle.
Despite the effect of known extrinsic injury risk factors, controls were still 1.9 times more likely than PAB wearers to experience an ankle sprain, 1.47 times more likely to experience an ankle fracture and 1.75 times more likely to experience an ankle injury of any sort.
The authors of the research concluded that the PAB protects against ankle injuries. In particular, this applied to ankle sprains (during military parachute training) whilst not influencing parachute entanglements or lower body exclusive of the ankle.
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1 Bricknell MC, Craig SC. Military parachuting injuries: a literature review. Occup Med 1999; 49:17-26
2 Parachute Ankle Brace and Extrinsic Injury Risk Factors During Parachuting (Joseph J Knapik, Salima Darakjy, David Swedler, Paul Amoroso and Bruce H Jones) Aviation Space, and Environmental Medicine x Vol. 79, No 4,April 2008 pp408-415