December 2023

Chris M. Edwards1, Émilie Miller1, Danilo F. da Silva1,2, Jessica L. Puranda1, Sara C.S. Souza1, Kevin Semeniuk1, Kristi B. Adamo1

1 School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa. 200 Lees Avenue, Building E, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 6N5

2 Sports Studies Department, Faculty of Arts and Science, Bishop’s University. 2600 College Street, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, J1M 1Z7

Take home message

  • A history of childbirth and pregnancy-related complications are linked to mental health and musculoskeletal injury in female members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

Background

  • Female CAF members are often released from military service after musculoskeletal injury and after childbirth.
  • The relationship between parity status and the prevalence or impact of musculoskeletal injury among female military members is unknown.

How the study was done

  • Data were collected via an online, self-report questionnaire.
  • Eligible participants were actively serving female members of the CAF (have given birth [n = 313] or have not given birth [n = 435]).

What the researchers found

  • Female CAF members who have carried at least one pregnancy to 20 weeks reported more repetitive strain injuries overall, and at the wrist and foot (when stratified by body region).
  • Almost half of the participants continued required work-related physical training throughout pregnancy without modifications.
  • 6% stopped physical training completely while pregnant.
  • 7% received specialized physical training support during pregnancy.
  • CAF members who experienced post-partum depression were more likely to sustain a musculoskeletal injury (acute and repetitive strain injury) at the hip, repetitive strain injury at the lower back, and repetitive strain injury of the head, eyes, or ears.
  • Miscarriage increased the likelihood of having experienced acute injury or repetitive strain injury at the low back.

Conclusion

  • Repetitive strain injuries are more common among female CAF members with a history of childbirth; however, parity was not related to acute injury prevalence.
  • Musculoskeletal injury and perceived mental health were associated with females who experienced postpartum depression, miscarriage, or preterm birth.