Clinical Assistant Professor Randi Richardson and second year DPT student Andrew Perez recently presented to a group of ROTC Army cadets to educate them on ways to reduce their risk of injury during training and on the job. Noncombat musculoskeletal injuries account for 60% of soldiers’ limited duty days and 65% of soldiers cannot deploy with their assigned units for medical reasons. Educating soldiers on ways to prevent musculoskeletal injuries not only protects the Army’s readiness, but increases the longevity of the careers of these tactical athletes.
The presentation was part of an ongoing relationship between UCF ROTC and the UCF Physical Therapy Department/Clinic. Richardson developed a strong interest in injury prevention of the tactical athlete after continually seeing similar patterns of injuries of the ROTC cadets at the UCF PT Clinic. Perez has a passion for serving the military community and plans to pursue a physical therapy residency to specialize in rehabilitating the tactical athlete. This collaboration not only benefited the ROTC cadets, but also advanced teaching and service of the DPT program.
Perez says things like muscular imbalance increases the risk for injury. Through evidence-informed training tactics, these risks can be reduced. “With increased emphasis on strength and conditioning principles and injury prevention strategies, military personnel can train in a safer, evidence-based, and effective manner to prevent future injuries, improve long-term health, and increase career longevity.”
Richardson says getting students involved in this type of outreach helps them to become contemporary clinicians by understanding the demands on the tactical athlete, and how to empower their patients with strategies for injury prevention.
“Both in education and practice, prevention and early education has become a bigger focus for PTs, and this kind of outreach program is effective in reaching at-risk populations and empowering them with strategies that protect their health and their livelihoods,” says Richardson.
Learn more about the UCF Physical Therapy clinic.