Injuries and Referral Patterns During Basic Combat Training: An Examination of Data From the Certified Athletic Trainer-Forward Program.

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Injuries sustained during basic combat training (BCT) result in large economic costs to the U.S. Army. The inclusion of athletic trainers (ATs) in other military branches has reduced Troop Medical Clinic (TMC) referrals. However, the inclusion of ATs during BCT has yet to be studied. The purpose of this study was to describe the frequency and nature of sick call visits during BCT and determine how the presence of an AT affects referrals to the TMC.

Materials and methods

A prospective cohort study was conducted at the Fort Jackson Army Training Center for one calendar year. Soldiers in BCT, aged 18-42, who reported to sick call were included. Independent variables collected included: Soldier demographics (sex and age), visit reason, and provider impression. Training battalions were placed in three conditions: control (CON), full-time medic (FTM), and part-time athletic trainer (PAT). The dependent variable was disposition (referred or returned to duty [RTD]). Frequencies and proportions were calculated. Logistic regression compared conditions while considering the other independent variables. Return on investment was calculated.


Fourteen thousand three hundred and four visits were documented. Most soldiers were female (n = 7,650; 53.5%) and under 20 years old (n = 5,328; 37.2%). Visits were most commonly due to physical injury (n = 7,926; 55.4%), injuries affecting the knee (n = 2,264; 15.8%) and chronic/overuse conditions (n = 2,031; 14.2%). By condition, the FTM and PAT conditions resulted in 1.303 (95%CI: 1.187, 1.430; P < .001) and 1.219 (95%CI: 1.103, 1.348; P < .001), or 30.3% and 21.9% higher, odds of being RTD compared to the CON condition, respectively. Return on investment was $23,363,596 overall and $2,423,306 for musculoskeletal-related cases.


Injuries were common in BCT, particularly in females. Soldiers in both the PAT and FTM conditions were more likely to be RTD compared to those in the CON condition. Athletic trainers (ATs) are effective at reducing potentially unnecessary referrals, demonstrating their value as healthcare providers in the BCT environment. Understanding variables associated with recruit disposition may aid medics and ATs in the development of triage protocols and further reduction of potentially unnecessary soldier referrals. The Certified Athletic Trainer-Forward Program resulted in significant return on investment, further supporting the inclusion of ATs in BCT.

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Military medicine

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