AF ‘Movement’ study could lead to healthier Airmen

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs
A study designed to proactively identify and address Airmen’s physical issues was conducted Oct. 17-21.

The Movement Matters study conducted by the 711th Human Performance Wing at the Air Force Research Laboratory is meant to establish baseline data for military personnel across eight bases designated to participate.

The goal is to mitigate injuries in military operational teams and achieve mission accomplishment.

Eglin was one of eight bases selected for the study, with 96th Security Forces Squadron, 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron and Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel as participants.

Once the study is completed, squadron commanders will receive a report of statistical information on their volunteers, identifying their rick factors. No names are included in the report.

From there, at-risk Airmen can take steps to prevent any physical issues that can become worse, over the course of their Air Force careers and later in their lives. 

“This affects readiness and performance,” said Alison Decaro, Eglin’s Health Promotions coordinator. “We want our Airmen to stay fit and injury-free.”

Lt. Col. Robert Briggs, AFRL Strong Laboratory research military director, and his team conducted the week-long technology-driven and traditional assessments. 

“Our goal is to assess mobility and identify personnel who could get injured,” he said. “We give them advice on how to prevent injuries.”    

Briggs said musculoskeletal injuries are the primary threat to readiness. They can lead to limited duty days, medical issues, financial burdens, nondeployable service members.

Staff Sgt. Don Hawk, 96th SFS, called his Movement Matters experience “humbling.”

“It showed me where I can improve, flexibility-wise,” he said. “I believe it will improve the progression of our body armor, to make for a more effective fighting force.”  

In one part of the study, force plates, flat bathroom scale-like devices equipped with sensors, are used to assess forces on the body to movements, like walking and jumping.

Participants are assessed while performing jumping movements on the force plates.

Other assessments conducted include: body measurements, and balance tests for the upper and lower quarters of the body, among others

Senior Airman Brianna Pitchford, 96th SFS, said she had back surgery last year and now pays closer attention to her overall health.

“The study was interesting,” she said. “It gave me a different perspective on my fitness and flexibility. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on those things as I’m getting older.”