Background: Musculoskeletal injuries, including lower extremity bone stress injuries (BSI) significantly impact initial entry training (IET) in the U.S. Army due to limited duty days, trainee attrition, early medical discharge, and related financial costs. Factors complicating trainee BSI surveillance include inconsistent BSI coding practices, attrition documentation as both administrative separations and medical discharges and the inability to code for BSI grade or severity when using International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th revision (ICD-10) codes. Methods: A multidisciplinary expert panel developed policy guidance to enhance clinical and administrative management of BSI, following extensive analysis of current, peer-reviewed literature. Policy guidance incorporates leading practices concerning clinical BSI management, including imaging procedures, recommended notifications, early intervention, and ICD-10 diagnostic coding procedures. Policy guidance also standardizes BSI grading criteria for magnetic resonance imaging and skeletal scintigraphy (bone scan). Findings: Multidisciplinary expert opinion indicates inconsistent BSI diagnosis and management across IET due to variability in trainee BSI grading, documentation, and coding practices. Injury surveillance conducted by the United States Army Medical Command (USAMEDCOM) will benefit from routine, standardized musculoskeletal injury data base searches by BSI severity/grade and anatomical location upon implementation of BSI policy guidance. Discussion: Effective injury surveillance is critical for determining trainee BSI incidence and attrition, developing anticipated return to duty (RTD) timelines, and assessing long-term outcomes. BSI RTD timelines should account for gender, BSI grade/severity, anatomical location, and type of intervention. Well-defined RTD timelines would benefit administrative decision-making purposes, including whether to grant convalescent leave or enroll in the Warrior Training and Rehabilitation Program during BSI recovery. Enhanced management procedures may improve initial enlistment completion rates for trainees sustaining at least one BSI who eventually complete IET.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health