Weight of Combat Gear Is Taking Toll
The Loads Are Contributing to Injuries That Are Keeping Some Troops on the Sidelines
Army leaders and experts say the injuries -- linked to the stress of bearing heavy loads during repeated 12- or 15-month combat tours -- have increased the number of soldiers categorized as "non-deployable." Army personnel reported 257,000 acute orthopedic injuries in 2007, up from 247,000 the previous year.
As injuries force more soldiers to stay home, the Army is having a harder time filling units for upcoming deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the service's vice chief of staff.
Pietro Tonino, chief of sports medicine at Loyola University Health System in suburban Chicago, agreed that the loads troops carry would "absolutely" predispose them to muscular-skeletal injuries over time. "They will get stress fractures or overuse injuries of the back, the legs, the foot," Tonino said. "Recruits get these stress fractures in their feet all the time just from walking."
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