MILITARY MATTERS: Marine Corps developing technology to prevent injuries

Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 1:47 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The U.S. military is using advanced technology to help prevent injuries among service members, keeping them on the battlefield as needed.

“In my mind, this was really a game-changer,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. (Ret) Stephen Armes.

When Armes took over the Marine Corps Human Performance Division, he was alarmed at how many Marines, especially women, in officer candidate school drop out due to injuries. Armes made it his mission to change that by deploying force plate technology.

“It’s probably one of the biggest revolutions that we’ve had on the fitness side, the holistic human performance side in the Marine Corps,” Armes said.

Congress recently approved more funding, so this technology is available to thousands of war fighters across the branches. These force plates, developed by Sparta Science, help service members customize workout plans to build up areas of vulnerability.

“They’re a high-powered bathroom scale in that they’re gathering thousands of data points a second as you balance or as you jump,” said Dr. Phil Wagner, M.D. and CEO and founder of Sparta Science.

A recent report by Walter Reed and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences found that three-quarters of medically non-deployable service members are sidelined due to musculoskeletal injuries, many stemming from training and sports activities.

Walter Reed director for surgery, Dr. Benjamin Kyle Potter, says he’s hopeful efforts like the force-plates will enhance military readiness.

“We’re not just talking about individuals who are ready, but units that can train together and then go fight together. The ability to have more of the team ready for the big game, so to speak, is huge,” Potter said.

The Walter Reed study found that 68,000 service members are deemed non-deployable each year due to musculoskeletal injuries, but the study also shows combat-related injuries are also more survivable than ever before.

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