A physical therapist experience, observation, and practice with an infantry brigade combat team in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
BACKGROUND: In 2005 the first physical therapists were employed in direct support of infantry brigade combat teams (BCTs) during a combat deployment. The initiative sought to bring soldiers direct access to specialized musculoskeletal care at the places they work and live. The goal was to prevent deferment of care for injuries that may become chronic and to decrease medical evacuations for orthopedic nonbattle injuries by locally providing acute and definitive management. PURPOSE: To describe the experience of a newly authorized physical therapy role in direct support of an infantry BCT in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The practice patterns, observation, and utilization of the physical therapy team are reported, to include demographics, injury prevalence, and outcomes. DISCUSSION: Physical therapists should be part of the risk management team and advise unit commanders on injury-prevention strategies in a combat setting.
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