By By Cursha Pierce-LundermanAugust 18, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson trains thousands of Soldiers each year and for many, basic training is the hardest physical training their bodies have ever endured. As a result, this post is home to a flagship program that places athletic trainers and physical therapists in the units with Soldiers and cadre to respond to injuries and quickly return Soldiers to training events.
"This is a developing program that is demonstrating the benefits of having athletic trainers at the training brigades by finding new ways to utilize their unique skill set in injury prevention strategies, cadre education, and emergency management of sports related injuries," said Maj. Derek George, Chief of Physical Therapy at Moncrief Army Community Hospital. "Having additional medical providers, such as athletic trainers, at high risk training events enhances the safety of the Soldiers in training and gives rapid access to medical care."
Units in the 193rd Infantry Brigade have immediately noticed the positive effects of this program in terms of Soldier fitness and meeting training goals.
"When I was a commander, our athletic trainer was at events with us and took care of Soldiers on the spot. It was great," said Capt. Consuela Beverly, executive officer of 2nd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment. "He would also send Soldiers to see the physical therapist who would treat the Soldiers and then order equipment or meds at the hospital. We just had to go pick it up. It definitely minimized time spent away from training."
Capt. Travis Robbins serves as the 193rd physical therapist and said the program has saved thousands of training hours.
"We keep track of the progress we make with Soldiers and cadre and we have saved about 3000-4000 training hours by seeing Soldiers here," Robbins said. "It's also not just about the Soldiers (in training), we also take care of the cadre members who take their bodies through this training cycle after cycle and we teach them about taking care of themselves."
Robbins is a physical therapist who completed the Army's doctorate level physical therapy program at Baylor University. All unit physical therapists are certified and can incorporate manual therapy methods similar to chiropractic care to attend to Soldiers' injuries.
Capt. Shannon Foo, the 165th Infantry Brigade physical therapist, enjoys treating Soldiers, but also sharing her knowledge with cadre members.
"I like the educational aspects of this job where I can talk to cadre about proper stretching techniques and the difference between types of injuries so maybe we can prevent them," Foo said.
Athletic trainers and physical therapists also advise commanders on a Soldier's ability to participate in certain training events so that injuries do not become more severe.
"Our trainer helped us figure out what our Soldiers' profiles really meant and what types of training they would be able to do as a substitute, if needed. It was helpful to have someone there to explain the details," Beverly said.
Unit commanders, trainers, and MACH personnel meet consistently to discuss the progress of this program and figure out the direction for the future of this health service, George said.
"We try to keep the Soldier in the unit and training as long as possible," Foo said. "The ideal would be to prevent the injuries and just have the Soldiers get through to graduation. We want to help them get there."