Date of Graduation
College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
Michelle A Sandrey
Context. Tactical law enforcement combines special law enforcement tactics and elite level athletic movements. There is a lack of research surrounding the frequency and types of musculoskeletal injuries incurred by tactical law enforcement officers. It is postulated that the musculoskeletal injuries seen in the military and among elite level athletes are similar to those sustained by tactical officers. Objective. The primary purpose of this study is to determine how often tactical officers experience musculoskeletal injuries, what types are most common, and when they are occurring. The secondary purpose of this study is to determine how often tactical officers have access to medical professionals, and who is managing/treating their musculoskeletal injuries. Results. The mean age of participants was 39.6+/-6.5. Most participants were part time tactical officers (78%, n=39). The majority of tactical officers (38.5%, n=20) have been employed as such for more than 10 years. The majority of tactical officers polled (76.9%, n=40) spent less than 5 hours per week on call outs, and 45.1% (n=23) spent less than 5 hours training per week. Most indicated that their tactical unit employed the Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) system (78.8%, n=41). The most popular medical coverage was to use an outside medical professional with tactical training and TEMS certification as the TEMS provider (70.0%, n=28). When TEMS was not available an EMT in emergency situations only (61.1%, n=11) was the most common. Only 13.3% (n=4) could consider a medical provider having a full time commitment to the tactical unit. Most tactical officers claimed not having any previous injuries that were exacerbated by their tactical officer duties (71.2%, n=37). An even greater number admitted to experiencing some kind of musculoskeletal injury as a direct result of being employed as a tactical officer (80.8%, n=42), and only 67.3% (n=35) admitted to sustaining some kind of musculoskeletal injury while employed as a tactical officer as a result of non-work related activities. Common Lower extremity injuries were ankle ligament sprains (63.2%, n=12), knee tears/ruptures (68.8%, n=11), and general pain and discomfort of the knee (41.7%, n=5). The most common upper extremity injuries were shoulder dislocations (60.0%, n=6) and elbow tendinitis (62.5%, n=5). The most common trunk injuries were back muscle strains (42.1%, n=8) and vertebral disc involvement in the back (77.8%, n=7). Multiple ligament sprains (81.5%, n=13), Muscle strains (50.0%, n=9), dislocations (62.5%, n=5), tendinitis (55.5%, n=5), tears/ruptures (50%, n=7), vertebral disc involvement (55.5%, n=5), and general pain/discomfort (66.7%, n=8) were reported prior to tactical officer employment. Multiple cases of ligament sprains (73.7%, n=14), muscle strains (89.5%, n=17), fractures (58.3%, n=7), dislocations (55.5%, n=5), tendinitis (75.0%, n=6), tears/ruptures (66.7%, n=10), vertebral disc involvement (80.0%, n=8), contusions (91.0%, n=10), lacerations (84.7%, n=11), and general pain/discomfort (83.2%, n=10) were reported as a result of work related activities. Multiple ligament sprains (66.8%, n=10), muscle strains (73.6%, n=14), tendinitis (57.2%, n=4), tears/ruptures (53.9%, n=7), contusions (55.5%, n=5), and general pain/discomfort (54.6%, n=6) were reported while engaging in outside of work activities. Physicians treated the majority of all injuries regardless of when they occurred whether prior to tactical officer employment injuries (74.2%, n=23), work related injuries (82.9%, n=29), and outside of work injuries (78.1%, n=25). Most responded that injuries sustained pre-tactical officer employment (82.4%, n=28) and those sustained outside of work related activities (65.7%, n=23) resulted in no time lost from work due to injuries. While 63.2% (n=24) reported missing time from work due to injuries sustained on the job, with 34.3% (n=12) reporting missing 2-6 weeks of work due to injury. Conclusion. Ankle sprains, knee sprains, back strains, shoulder dislocations, elbow tendinitis, knee tears/ruptures, vertebral disc involvement of the back, hand lacerations, and general knee pain were the most commonly injured body parts in tactical officers. Work related injuries seemed to be the most prevalent. The information gained through this study represents a small population of tactical officers and the injuries experienced during their careers. This provides valuable information about common musculoskeletal injuries and when they are occurring. A more focused study with a larger sample size is needed to improve the validity and power of this information. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).
Roberts, Nathan T., "Musculoskeletal injuries in tactical law enforcement" (2010). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 4647.