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Can Achilles and patellar tendon structures predict musculoskeletal injuries in combat soldiers?


Nili Steinberg, Michal Pantanowitz, Shany Funk, Shani Svorai Band, Gordon Waddington, Nirit Yavnai, Aviva Zeev


Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2021;35-1;205-214.

Publishing detail

PMID: 32885496


Aiming to investigate whether Achilles tendon (AT) structure and patellar tendon (PT) structure are risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries in combat soldiers, 168 participants were recruited from an infantry commander’s course. The AT and PT were examined pre-course using UTC to capture the structure of four echo-type fibers (I-IV). All injuries were assessed by military physicians pre-course and throughout the 14-week course. Soldiers who were injured during the course had a significantly higher pre-course prevalence of AT and PT echo-type III and echo-type IV compared to soldiers that were not injured during the course. Variables that were found to be associated with injured/non-injured participants were echo-type III + IV of the PT (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.24-1.68) and echo-type III of the AT (OR = 1.69, 95% CI = 1.35-2.12). ROC analyses showed that the best model, exhibiting both high sensitivity and low specificity, was that participants with PT echo-type III + IV > 10% or AT echo-type III >8.5% had the highest risk of being injured during the course. In conclusions, the tendon structure at the beginning of high-intensity activity or physical training program might be a risk factor for subsequent injury during the course. Soldiers and high-level athletes should be aware of the cutoff points for fiber types in tendon structure that might put them at high risk for future injury. At-risk soldiers/athletes should be provided with an intervention program before they start their training program, with the aim of improving the tendon structure and preventing subsequent injury.

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