Postural Stability of Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen With Tactical Gear

Paul M. Morgan, Valerie J. Williams, Timothy C. Sell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The US Naval Special Warfare's Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) operate on small, high-speed boats while wearing tactical gear (TG). The TG increases mission safety and success but may affect postural stability, potentially increasing risk for musculoskeletal injury. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of TG on postural stability during the Sensory Organization Test (SOT).

METHODS: Eight SWCC performed the SOT on NeuroCom's Balance Manager with TG and with no tactical gear (NTG). The status of gear was performed in randomized order. The SOT consisted of six different conditions that challenge sensory systems responsible for postural stability. Each condition was performed for three trials, resulting in a total of 18 trials.

RESULTS: Overall performance, each individual condition, and sensory system analysis (somatosensory, visual, vestibular, preference) were scored. Data were not normally distributed therefore Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to compare each variable (ρ = .05). No significant differences were found between NTG and TG tests. No statistically significant differences were detected under the two TG conditions. This may be due to low statistical power, or potentially insensitivity of the assessment. Also, the amount and distribution of weight worn during the TG conditions, and the SWCC's unstable occupational platform, may have contributed to the findings. The data from this sample will be used in future research to better understand how TG affects SWCC.

CONCLUSION: The data show that the addition of TG used in our study did not affect postural stability of SWCC during the SOT. Although no statistically significant differences were observed, there are clinical reasons for continued study of the effect of increased load on postural stability, using more challenging conditions, greater surface perturbations, dynamic tasks, and heavier loads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-31
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of special operations medicine : a peer reviewed journal for SOF medical professionals
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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