Defence Science Centre funded study helps protect recruits from injury risk  

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A research team from Edith Cowan University has explored the injury risk profiles of basic training recruits in a ‘precision medicine’ approach that could reduce injury risk and reduce costs.  
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Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have explored the injury risk profiles of basic training recruits from defence and WA police, in a ‘precision medicine’ approach that could reduce injury risk and costs.   

The DSC, part of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, offers support to Western Australian institutions to develop local capabilities and research to find solutions for current and future Defence developments.  


Researchers systematically reviewed injury incidence of recruits undergoing basic training, finding that age and gender were associated with increased risk of injury, while cardiovascular fitness reduced injury risk.   

Dr Myles Murphy, a post-doctoral research fellow within the Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute at ECU, spoke about how precision medicine will become increasingly important for a diversified defence force.   

“The precision medicine approach targets medications and interventions at the individual level, so instead of giving everyone the same thing, we develop risk profiles for each individual person.”   

The ECU team systemically reviewed military and law enforcement recruit studies to determine the risk of injury during basic training, and subsequently developed risk profiles for over 1300 WA Police Force recruits, generating analogous insights that could be applied to defence populations.   

“There’s a very different incidence of injury in the military compared to sport and the general population,” Dr Murphy said.  

“In a military population, we’re seeing that injuries tend to get worse as lower leg bones get reactive after they’re injured. In addition, we found women and recruits over 30 years of age are 40% and 50%, respectively, more likely to injure themselves.”   


The research has important implications for injury prevention as recruit profiles become increasingly reflective of the general population.   

“We’ve secured further funding to develop an improved recruit injury surveillance system. We’ve got epidemiology experts, police force representatives, as well as people working in high performance sport from around the world consulting in a Delphi process to ask what should be measured in this new system,” Dr Murphy said.  

Dr Murphy hopes the research will result in practical, cost-effective recommendations for injury prevention across the board.   

“It may be possible to reduce injury rates by up to 50 per cent. This is important as not only the cost of injury at the time must be considered, but the longer-term costs associated with injury, such as physiotherapy or joint replacement from osteoarthritis that one day presents due to a knee ligament rupture as a recruit,” Dr Murphy said.  

“The impact to quality of life and financial costs associated with this could justify fifteen minutes of recruits’ learning time, or changes to training – we know that the biggest predictor for injury is having had an injury.”   

Learn more about Defence Science Centre grants programs