Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Engineering

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Babak Bazrgari

Abstract

While military body armor is used among warfighters for protection on and off the battlefield, it has been suggested to impede performance and act as a risk factor for the development of musculoskeletal disorders, especially low back pain. Apart from personal suffering, low back pain in soldiers is a great economic burden on the US economy. The objective of this study was to quantify the changes in trunk mechanical and neuromuscular behavior following prolonged exposure to body armor compared to exposure without. A crossover study design was used where 12 sex-balanced participants completed a series of tests before and after 45 minutes of treadmill walking with and without body armor. The tests included range of motion, isometric trunk tests, sudden perturbations, and stress relaxation. As a whole, exposure duration considered in this study resulted in no significant differences in performance between armor and no armor conditions. However, comparing the effects of body armor among the sex-differentiated groups showed a body armor -induced increase in range of trunk motion in the sagittal plane among females (p = 0.0018) and a decrease in pelvic range of motion in the transverse plane among both males (p=0.025) and females (p=0.004).

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