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Risk Factors for Injuries During Military Parachuting

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Knapik JJ, Craig SC, Hauret KG, Jones BH. Risk factors for injuries during military parachuting. Aviat Space Environ Med 2003; 74:768–74.

Introduction: Parachuting is an activity performed by a variety of occupational groups including the military, firefighters (smoke jumpers), and rescue groups. Methods: This paper systematically reviewed the literature on injury risk factors for soldiers performing static line parachuting from military aircraft. Jump-related injuries were defined as those occurring from the time the soldier exited the aircraft until he or she released their parachute harness on the ground. Results and Discussion: Despite methodological differences, where two or more studies examined a particular risk factor, results were generally similar. Higher injury risk was associated with higher wind speed, night jumps, jumps from airplanes (vs. balloons and helicopters), jumps wearing additional equipment, jumps without ankle braces, uneven terrain on the drop zone, and female gender. Risk factors identified in only single studies included a greater number of soldiers exiting the aircraft, winds from the rear of the aircraft, simultaneous exits from doors on opposite sides of the aircraft, smaller parachute canopies, higher ambient air temperatures, and airborne refresher courses (vs. introductory courses). Further studies are needed which use a multivariate approach to evaluate the relative impact of the various risk factors and their interactions. Conclusions: This paper identified a number of risk factors relevant to all parachutists (e.g., wind speed, female gender) and some relevant primarily to the military and other tactical parachutists such as smoke jumpers (e.g., equipment weight). Knowledge of these risk factors can assist parachutists and those that train them in their risk analysis.
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Keywords: aircraft; parachute; terrain; training; weather

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2003

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