Purpose: Female soldiers are smaller in anthropometric measurements relevant to body armour sizing when compared to male soldiers . The Australian Army’s Tiered Body Armour System (TBAS) is available in a limited number of sizes. It is currently unknown whether TBAS sizing accommodates female soldiers, or the effect that oversized (ill-fitting) body armour has on female soldier’s experience of musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, mobility, and operational performance. Methods: A custom questionnaire was completed by 147 female soldiers (TBAS users) from a range of combat and combat-support roles. Readability of the questionnaire was tested with Defence Science Technology Group and Diggerworks. The questionnaire included 59 questions about fit and function of TBAS, including perceived overall TBAS fit, musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, mobility, and operational performance. Responses to questions were coded and counted to determine frequency of responses. Participants were divided into two groups (Good-fit and Ill-fit) based on their self-report overall fit of TBAS. Mann-Whitney U-tests with Bonferroni correction were conducted to determine whether musculoskeletal pain and discomfort significantly (p < 0.05) differed between groups (SPSS v23, USA). Results: The overall fit of TBAS was oversized (ill-fit) for 56% of participants. Compared to participants who reported TBAS to be a good fit, participants with oversized TBAS reported significantly (p < 0.05) higher musculoskeletal pain scores (hip and abdomen) and reported a significantly higher prevalence of discomfort (pressure points, chaffing, pinching, bruising or abrasions) when wearing TBAS. Participants with ill-fitting armour also reported significantly greater mobility restrictions during bending, twisting, arm and neck movements, driving, shouldering a rifle, standing and prone rifle firing, running/jogging and going to the bathroom when wearing TBAS. Participants with oversized armour reported significantly greater interference between TBAS and other equipment, as well as reduced ability to complete some operation specific tasks. Conclusion: Many female soldiers reported they are wearing oversized body armour. Oversized body armour was associated with increased musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, as well as reduced mobility and task performance. While maintaining protective requirements, there is a need for body armour systems that improve comfort, mobility and task performance for female soldiers. Operational relevance: This study demonstrates the negative impact of oversized body armour on operational performance among female soldiers. Body armour that improves accommodation for female soldiers is required.
|Number of pages||1|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2020|
|Event||5th International Congress on Soldiers Physical Performance: ICSPP 2020 - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada|
Duration: 11 Feb 2020 → 14 Feb 2020
|Conference||5th International Congress on Soldiers Physical Performance|
|Abbreviated title||ICSPP 2020|
|Period||11/02/20 → 14/02/20|