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Posted: Apr 12, 2020

The effects of body armour on mobility and postural control of police officers


Background: Police officer use of Individual Light Armour Vests (ILAVs) is increasing due to potential occupational hazards that include blunt trauma, stabbing and light calibre bullets. It is unclear how addition of this extra load will affect the officer’s mobility or postural control.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the effects of various ILAVs on the mobility and postural control of police officers when compared to wearing their normal station wear.

Methods: A prospective, within-subjects, repeated measures study was conducted in which officers wore one of three different ILAV variants or normal station wear (N) and acted as their own controls. Officer mobility was assessed via the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and postural sway (including total sway, average sway velocity, medial-lateral velocity, anterior-posterior velocity and total excursion area) via force plate.

Results: Significant differences were found between ILAV or N conditions in various components of the FMS, including (R) Straight Leg Raise, (L) Shoulder Mobility and both (R) and (L) quad rotary stability. No significant differences were found in any of the balance measures between these conditions.

Conclusion: It appears ILAVs can significantly affect police officer mobility and therefore may contribute to injury risk and decreased ability to complete occupational tasks, though this should be weighed against protective benefits. ILAVs should therefore be carefully selected to minimise injury risk without detracting from occupational performance.