30 September 2011
Resiliency from Physical Injury

By BAHC Staff

While most military personnel are young and fit, musculoskeletal physical training-related injuries know no age and pose a significant issue in the military. The need for fitness and the requisite physical training to maintain mission-readiness inevitably leads to training injuries.

The "injury epidemic", as it has been coined, is a serious threat to U.S. Military readiness. Musculoskeletal injuries can cause physical pain and suffering that can create psychological toll that Soldiers do not anticipate. Mental toughness and resilience are qualities that better equip injured Soldiers to understand, manage, and heal from a physical injury.

Command awareness of both the physical and mental stress associated with musculoskeletal injury will better prepare them to assist their injured Soldiers in healing quickly and completely; thus decreasing time lost from work and improving unit readiness.Physical injury increases stress on the body.

Physically, the body requires rest (profile) as it demands more energy to heal the injured tissues. Mental stress increases when the soldier has to deal with pain associated with an injury; the more severe and debilitating the injury, the more difficult it may be to cope.

This psychological stress is amplified further when the injured Soldier must meet physical requirements for their job.As a service member, it is important to seek care for injuries as early as possible. Most injuries only require a temporary profile, possibly a few weeks of physical therapy, and progression back to full physical duty.

It is also important to acquire the mental skills to cope with an injury. The ability to think about and accentuate the positives, vs. harping on the negatives is a key component of resiliency and mental toughness. An inability or poor ability to deal with the stress associated with an injury can further increase pain, decrease work performance, decrease morale, and prolong the healing process.

Many military personnel fear the worst when they get injured; fears of command disapproval, being on a profile, ridicule from peers, looking weak in front of their Soldiers, increasing the burden on their peers, gaining weight, decreasing fitness levels, and potential medical separation from the Military.

With the proper mental skills, one can recognize, seek redress, and overcome these fears and change their outlook to a more positive view.All military personnel should take advantage of the various "resiliency training" courses offered throughout their tenure in the military; the mental skills that are taught through this training can help one deal with any kind of stress, including that associated with physical injury.

The resilience training, formerly Battlemind Training, can be found at https://www.resilience.army.mil.

All military personnel and DOD Civilians can access these courses and improve their mental toughness and resiliency.

Soldiers or family member needing help to recover from physical injury or help adapting to the stressors it causes should schedule an appointment to see their primary care manager by calling (301) 619-7175 or 1 (866) 319-8982.

Posted by PAO

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