FORT POLK, La. –
The Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital rehabilitation department along with physical therapists from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) conducted musculoskeletal exam, intervention and referral training March 8 and 9 for combat medics at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Maj. Anthony Williams, chief of rehabilitative services at BJACH said the intent was to provide hands on proficiency training to combat medics that would enable them to serve as force multipliers on the battlefield and support overall Soldier readiness.
“We are conducting a post-wide musculoskeletal skills fair for medics and physical therapy specialists to increase their competence and confidence in the assessment of patients who come to sick call,” he said. “We want to equip them with the tools necessary to help as many people as possible.”
Williams said during the training Soldiers would learn how to assess shoulder, knee, ankle and lower back pathology.
“The goal of this training is for participants to walk away confident in their ability to provide early evidence based intervention,” he said. “We also want them to be able to determine if it’s appropriate to manage the injuries locally or if the patients need to be referred to higher levels of care.”
Capt. Will Holcomb, physical therapist with 3rd BCT, 10th MNT DIV, holistic health and fitness program assisted with the training.
“Medics don’t get a lot of musculoskeletal training in general, but the majority of patients they will see in both the garrison and deployed environment will be musculoskeletal based injuries,” he said. “Readiness is affected if they don’t understand how to properly prioritize and treat their patients. If Soldiers are waiting to see the physician assistant or myself that will impact readiness. We know seeing these patients at or as close to the point of injury as possible will improve their outcomes.”
Holcomb said a combat medic’s ability to understand how to evaluate and care for musculoskeletal patients will allow Soldiers to return to the fight faster.
Maj. Mistie Dukes, physician assistant, 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, encouraged medics from her battalion to participate in the training.
“Given the nature of our occupation, service members are susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries just like professional athletes,” she said. “Medics are often the first health care professional a service member will see in both garrison and deployed settings. Our medics are the first to see the injuries at the drop zone, in the field, at the range, during physical training and at the clinic.”
Dukes said medics are integrated into the unit and are often approached with medical concerns from their fellow Soldiers.
“Continued development of diagnostic skills aids the medic’s ability to triage, treat and refer their battle buddies effectively,” she said. “This improves the communication with higher echelons ensuring timeliness of care and improved patient outcomes.”
Spc. Madeline Bryan, combat medic, 1-509th IN Regiment, said she learned a lot of valuable information that she will apply to her assessment of Soldiers at sick call and in a field environment.
“This is the best training, I’ve ever received in the Army,” she said.
Army physical therapy specialists from BJACH also participated in the training to complete individual critical task list requirements.
Williams said Soldiers in all medical military occupational specialties have ICTLs that they must complete annually and the training was designed to ensure they completed the requirement.
“Physical therapy specialists can work either in a fixed facility like BJACH or in a field hospital,” he said. “They will administer the treatment plan recommended by me or one of our physical therapists, promote physical fitness and provide instructions to patients on how to prevent injuries.”
Williams said most people get into allied health professions to help others and this training will better equip Soldiers on how to do that from a physical therapy perspective.
During the two day training event there were nine participants from three separate units. Due to the positive feedback, the rehabilitation team hopes to make this a training available quarterly.