Skip to main content

Military Health System

Caring for Recruits' Injuries is Key to Success at Basic Training

Image of U.S. Marines wait for instruction from their Senior Drill Instructor after concluding a motivational run at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, on March 11, 2021. . U.S. Marines wait for instruction from their Senior Drill Instructor after concluding a motivational run at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, on March 11, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Ralph)

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Readiness Capabilities | Injury Prevention

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of articles about recruit and trainee training, and how the Military Health System supports the military services in maintaining optimal health as these young men and women go through basic training and recruit training and enter the military.

There are all sorts of reasons why a new recruit might wash out of their initial military training.

Some just decide that enlisting in the military wasn't for them, and they cannot adjust to military life.

Others are unable to meet the basic standards and requirements to become a service member.

But among the most common reasons that young people fail to complete recruit training successfully and on time is injury.

That's why today's recruit trainers and drill instructors take many precautious to avoid injuries that can leave new enlistees to languish for weeks in a rehabilitation unit or simply sent back home.

"Injury is extremely frustrating and can crush morale and motivation," said Army Capt. Lydia Blondin, assistant chief of physical therapy at the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

The most common injuries are overuse injuries of the lower extremities and include stress fractures and muscle strains, she said.

"Occasionally, we also see more acute injuries like fractures or ligament tears," she added.

These can result in delayed training due to prolonged bone healing times, which typically range from six to 12 weeks.

Still, despite the best mitigation efforts injuries do occur.

Medical experts say today's recruits are at higher risk of injury because they live a more sedentary lifestyle than prior generations. Some of them struggle to adjust to the rigors of recruit training.

That's why it's more important than ever to encourage recruits to get in shape before shipping out. And they need access to top-notch medical care if they get injured to ensure their entire military career doesn't get derailed at its earliest phase.

The physical therapy, medical, and Fitness Training Unit staff at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, serve approximately 80,000 Army trainees annually, providing on-site primary care and evaluation services at the Consolidated Troop Medical Clinic.
The physical therapy, medical, and Fitness Training Unit staff at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, serve approximately 80,000 Army trainees annually, providing on-site primary care and evaluation services at the Consolidated Troop Medical Clinic. (Photo: Lori Newman, U.S. Army)

Responding to Injuries

Once injuries happen, the health care team at each training facility is there to help. At Fort Leonard Wood, the staff at the Richard G. Wilson Troop Medical Clinic offers primary care as well as physical therapy.

The installation has a fitness training holding unit for injured soldiers. That provides access to the Warrior Training and Rehabilitation Program, which helps injured soldiers rehabilitate and recover, said Army Maj. Jon-Marc Thibodeau, a clinical coordinator and chief of the medical readiness service line at Fort Leonard Wood.

"The soldier can continue healing while staying fit and healthy until they are ready to return back to training," explained Blondin.

For their part, medical providers can schedule individual briefs with a company or battalion to review injury prevention, discuss running form, or any other topic, Blondin explained. Physical therapists provide injured soldiers with crutches, braces, medication, manual therapy, exercises, stretches, dry needling, joint mobilization, or blood-flow restriction, among other treatments.

When necessary, orthopedic doctors may need to get involved for more significant injuries to assess the need for surgery.

Additionally, the trainees have access to behavioral health resources to address the psychological or emotional aspects of injuries.

"Behavioral health therapists or the chaplain are great resources to help these trainees figure out how to mentally cope with the stress and frustration of injury in the training environment."

Rest is Also Good

Advanced technologies help reduce and treat injuries from military training. But sometimes, the best treatment for training injuries can be as simple as rest, said Blondin.

If a trainee undergoes surgery or suffers significant injury, they may be granted convalescent leave and be allowed to return home temporarily. But this is an option military leaders prefer to avoid, as it takes the recruit out of the basic training environment.

"During convalescent leave, they don't have access to rehab. There's less of a safety control, and unfortunately, sometimes soldiers will get into trouble or lose their motivation to come back," said Blondin.

"Our first goal is to stay in training when safe and feasible," said Blondin. "Sometimes this can mean just taking it easy and modifying training for a week or two while things calm down."

Getting Back Into It

Following an injury, recruits gradually return to exercise. Close monitoring of their gait when performing exercises is key to ensuring trainees are ready to resume full training, said Thibodeau. Limping, for example, is an indication of injury and reveals it's not yet time to increase their running, walking, or rucking time.

"Going from zero to 100 is a recipe for re-injury," added Blondin. "Re-injury is tough in training, not only physically, but mentally. It can affect the ability to remain in the Army depending on the type and severity of the injury, and where they are in training."

Editor's note: Military services refer to entry-level service members as either 'recruit' or 'trainee'. Entry-level training also uses various names – 'basic training', 'recruit training' and 'boot camp' being the most common. For this article, theses terms are used interchangeably.

You also may be interested in...

Medical Center of Excellence Publishes Its Medical Company Doctrine Publication

Article Around MHS
11/20/2022
Infographic for Army Techniques Publication 4-02.6

As the U.S. Army’s culture shifts from counterinsurgency or limited contingency operations to large-scale combat operations, medical forces must optimize Army Health System support for maximum effectiveness.

Recommended Content:

Readiness Capabilities

Exoskeleton to Enhance Safety, Retention for Aerial Porters, Others

Article Around MHS
10/26/2022
Military personnel pushes exoskeleton robotic fitness machine

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Center for Rapid Innovation, or CRI, held an event Oct. 6 with the U.S. Air Force Reserve Commander’s 445th Airlift Wing for a robotics team to demonstrate the latest Forge System, a pneumatically powered exoskeleton that augments leg strength to reduce fatigue, increase endurance, and offset weight.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Research and Innovation

Tactical Medical Augmentation Team Increases Combat Medical Capability

Article Around MHS
10/24/2022
Tactical Medical Augmentation Team Increases Combat Medical Capability

To find a solution to an identified gap in medical care provided in combat situations, the U.S. Air Force 920th Rescue Wing’s Aeromedical Staging Squadron developed the Tactical Medical Augmentation Team, an embedded medical team that will bring a new level of patient care directly to the battlefield.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities

Getting Back to the Fight

Article Around MHS
10/6/2022
Military personnel working out

Training for America’s next battles will always involve risk. Creating an environment that simulates the many elements of warfare is an ever-changing obstacle, but the Marine Corps has always adapted to these obstacles.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Injury Prevention

Army Builds Tool to Save Lives at High Altitude

Article Around MHS
9/30/2022
Military researchers in the mountains of New Mexico

Mountain climbing is risky business. When unacclimatized individuals rapidly ascend to altitudes greater than 8,000 feet, they put themselves at risk for suffering from high-altitude illnesses. The addition of hard physical exercise, typical of a military mission, increases this level of risk. Detecting these illnesses prior to occurrence has the potential to save lives.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Physical Fitness

Battalion Hosts Critical Medical Training

Article Around MHS
8/24/2022
Military personnel in combat training exercise

Allied Forces North Battalion conducted a week-long Combat Lifesaver Course July 25-29.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Education & Training | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Global Health Security Agenda

Yoga Shield: Building Mental and Physical Resiliency

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Military personnel doing yoga

More than 30 Airmen assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s 178th Wing and the Iowa National Guard’s 132nd Wing began a week-long, 60-hour yoga training program July 18 at the 178th Wing in Springfield, Ohio.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness

Mind-Body Mental Fitness

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Mountain view

The lifestyle of active duty service members and their families comes with unique stressors that can often be compounded by living overseas. What most people don’t realize is that stress is a normal part of life. The feelings of stress are just indicators that something in our life needs attention, and even presents a possibility for positive change and growth.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Stress | Mental Health is Health Care

Teddy Roosevelt, Navy Medicine, and the Birth of Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
7/25/2022
Military personnel in exercise drill on deck of Navy ship

Today’s U.S. Navy espouses a “culture of fitness,” and “physical readiness,” but this was not always the case. In the early 1900s, many including the president himself, Theodore Roosevelt, were appalled by the lack of physical conditioning in the Navy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness

August Performance Triad Month

Article Around MHS
7/21/2022
Color graphic depicting aspects of wellness.

As part of its August “P3 for All” campaign, the U.S. Army Public Health Center is encouraging all Army leaders, soldiers, family members and soldiers for life to embrace the synergy of sleep, activity and nutrition, the core components of the Performance Triad, along with the important elements of mental readiness and spiritual readiness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Sleep

JBLM Army spouse combats PTSD with physical fitness

Article Around MHS
7/13/2022
Military personnel in physical training session

Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders like PTSD, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Beating the Stigma: Workhorse Battalion and H2F Team Up to Improve Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
6/24/2022
Military personnel bench pressing

To help counter that stigma of being "broken", the 10th Division Sustainment Troops Battalion “Workhorse,” 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, and the brigade’s Holistic Health and Fitness team, also known as H2F, joined forces to create the Unbreakable Warrior program, also known as UBW.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness

Army announces initiatives to improve quality of life for Soldiers in Alaska

Article Around MHS
6/3/2022
woman riding bicycle

Army leadership looks to expand indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities in Alaska as one way to improve the quality-of-life for Service members serving up in the Last Frontier.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Air Force Surgeon General eyes modernizing capabilities for joint commanders (Part 2)

Article Around MHS
5/27/2022
Military medical personnel at Patrick AFB

Since assuming his role of Air Force Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Robert Miller has worked to advance the Air Force Medical Service’s capabilities, ensuring it is ready for an evolving joint fight.

Recommended Content:

Medical Logistics | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Total Force Fitness

Navy Hospital Ship Departs for Pacific Partnership 2022

Article Around MHS
5/9/2022
Navy Hospital Ship Departs

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed San Diego, May 3, marking the beginning of Pacific Partnership 2022 (PP22).

Recommended Content:

Readiness Capabilities | Health Readiness & Combat Support
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 15, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery