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    Quartermaster School, physical therapist team up to reduce PT injuries

    Quartermaster School, physical therapist team up to reduce PT injuries

    Courtesy Photo | Soldiers participate in a physical training run during a skills competition, July 9,...... read more read more

    FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 15, 2016) -- Call it the physical therapy road show.

    Capt. Erin Johnson, a Kenner Army Health Clinic physical therapist who has seen her share of students with physical training injuries, has been reaching beyond the confines of her department to teach advanced individual training cadre how to reduce her patient load.

    “It’s me doing my job and putting what I know into the hands of NCOs so their troops never get to me in the first place,” said, Johnson, also the chief of orthopedics. “The things I teach them are what I cover over and over again at my clinic.”

    Treating large numbers of AIT students from the installation’s various schools constitutes a significant portion of Johnson’s outpatient load. Most of them sustained injuries during PT.

    “I pulled up all the data of what injuries we see at Fort Lee, how prevalent those injuries were and what Soldiers said caused them,” said Johnson. “Most said their cause of injury was due to physical training, and that’s something we’ve seen on a more global scale according to the (U.S. Army) Public Health Command (now Public Health Center).”

    Moreover, said Johnson, the research indicates many PT injuries are due to a combination of repetition and improper technique.

    “Around one-half of injuries are coming from an inflammatory overuse problem, which means you do a movement incorrectly but you do it so many times it ends up causing this wear-and-tear kind of injury that could’ve been prevented,” she said.

    Injury reduction is a tenant of the Army’s Physical Readiness Training program that was implemented roughly five years ago. It is the basis for Johnson’s efforts to further reduce injury through the science of biomechanics, education and awareness, she said.

    The Quartermaster School’s PRT program was expanded from five to eight days at the beginning of the year to further address injury prevention, said Johnson. With the input and support of the school’s enlisted leaders, the mandatory course for AIT platoon sergeants was enhanced in March with several blocks of instruction from Johnson that examine the intricacies of exercise movement.

    “The first brief I give is what the problem is – identifying it,” she said, relating how overuse injuries negatively impact Soldier readiness. “We know it’s a problem; what do we do about it? We identify where we get these injuries, and we start to talk about it – how to run correctly, how they train Soldiers to run correctly and how they identify good or bad running form in someone.”

    A second brief, given on day five or six, centers on re-conditioning PRT, said Johnson. It covers the administration of “profiles” or documented exercise limitations – how they are read, what the providers are trying to communicate, whether the limitations are sufficient and whether the leadership and medical teams are in agreement.

    “This helps with injury prevention as well because it allows us tell the leadership down at the unit level what’s going on with each Soldier,” said Johnson. “They know how to protect them, how to get them back, how much to push them and they don’t have to make those determinations on their own.”

    In addition to the briefs, Johnson said there is plenty of time for discussion that is essential to educating NCOs on the issues “so they can go out and kind of be the eyes and ears on the ground of what am I seeing and what am I identifying in my practice.”

    Johnson said she has taught several classes since March. Although the instruction has received positive comments and a high level of interest from NCOs, it is too early to gauge whether she is making good on the overall intent to reduce injuries among troops.

    “Unfortunately, there is not a really good tracking mechanism for this kind of thing, so we’re looking at all the different data sources we can,” she said, noting it could be at least a year before solid information is available. “For example, we’re tracking re-conditioning PRT, tracking the rates of how long Soldiers spend on profile and using the Medical Readiness Assessment Tool to determine whether we are showing a downward trend in the unit’s risk of non-availability or a decrease in Soldiers who are on these repetitive-injury profiles. If we can see a reduction in the diagnosis coding of preventable injuries, we know we are at least starting to make a change.”

    Despite the lack of immediate data that could further direct her efforts, Johnson said she is confident the program is on the right track because her work with units simply involves putting her knowledge into more hands.

    “I can only treat one patient at a time,” she said, “but an NCO can impact many Soldiers who may never get to me because they were taught to perform exercises using proper form, thus putting them at the least risk of injury.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.15.2016
    Date Posted: 09.15.2016 09:16
    Story ID: 209686
    Location: US

    Web Views: 52
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