UPMC | University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
EXTRA! - A biweekly newsletter for staff of UPMC
Friday, Dec. 1, 2006
Volume 17, No. 24
Download a PDF of this issue
Summary Plan DescriptionsArchivesUpcoming EventsResearch StudiesUPMC PerksSubmit a Story

Additional Articles
UPMC Presbyterian
receives national award

Holiday schedule for 2007

Webcast tackles
long-term living options

Benefits briefs

Are you ready
to go smoke-free?

Holiday promotions
support Cancer Centers

YMCA offers
the gift of health



Fit for duty
UPMC partners for military injury prevention


The UPMC Innovative Medical and Information Technologies (IMITs) Center is an applied technology and biomedical research center promoting collaboration among health care providers, academic institutions, and the federal government. The center builds its programs by facilitating the exchange of resources and ideas and translating advances in clinical practice, information technology, and health business management into clinical products and services. IMITs has collaborated with the UPMC Disaster Management Center, the UPMC Center for Biosecurity, and the Pennsylvania National Guard to create the Strategic Biodefense System.

For more information, visit the IMITs Center website.

High-risk maneuvers behind enemy lines may soon be less risky for the Screaming Eagle air assault soldiers of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). In an innovative project funded by the Department of Defense (DoD), UPMC Center for Sports Medicine researchers will establish an Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement (IPPE) lab at Fort Campbell, Ky. Arranged and managed through UPMC’s Innovative Medical and Information Technologies (IMITs) Center, the projected two-year, $2.75 million study of 900 soldiers at Fort Campbell will identify risk factors and develop intervention training programs for injury prevention.

Musculoskeletal injury is the primary cause of disability in the military and accounts for 33 percent of Veterans Administration disability costs and 18 percent of Army hospitalizations. Soldiers of the 101st Airborne can be described as tactical athletes, performing highly demanding training maneuvers and air assaults that can result in repetitive motion injuries to shoulder, knee, back, and ankle.

Sports medicine for soldiers

The IPPE lab is a component of a larger DoD initiative to create a Wounded Warrior Rehabilitation Center at Fort Campbell that will include a Return to Readiness physical rehabilitation program for the injured soldier. The goal is improving the overall fitness of military personnel for tactical training and combat.

The study aims to enhance the readiness of military forces by improving biomechanical, physiological, and musculoskeletal characteristics in 101st Airborne soldiers. The IPPE lab will conduct research to develop cutting-edge training for reducing musculoskeletal injuries to paratroopers during tactical training and combat operations.

Performance enhancement to reduce injuries

To be housed in a converted gym at Fort Campbell slated for completion in January 2007, the performance enhancement study will conduct a year-long first phase that involves an integrative process to identify injury patterns, causes, and risk factors. For example, knee and ankle injuries in the military have been linked to awkward and dangerous landing positions during parachuting, fast-roping, and rappelling. Repetitive climbing, pulling, and overhead activity can alter shoulder mechanics and lead to upper body injuries.

The IPPE study will use sophisticated biomechanical modeling technologies and equipment, such as a motion monitor electromagnetic tracking device, to precisely map physical movement. While a test subject performs task simulations in the lab, receivers attached to the soldier’s body detect an electromagnetic field and orientation of body segments, which are then digitized as anatomical landmarks.

Such physical profiling can identify movement patterns, forces, joint angles, and planes of motion. Based on the data, intervention exercises will be designed to improve task-specific muscle strength, flexibility, joint position, balance, and neuromuscular control to prevent injury.

Reducing injuries through protective training and performance enhancement can reduce personnel attrition, lost time due to disability, medical expenses, and disability payments.

This collaborative effort of UPMC Center for Sports Medicine researchers with the 101st Airborne Division has significant potential for relieving the strain, optimizing the well-being, and increasing the readiness of U.S. military forces.

This work was supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under Award No. W81XWH-06-2-0070. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the U.S. Army.


Top of page

UPMC | University of Pittsburgh Medical Center