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UI works to keep Marines battle ready

UI researchers work to prevent military injuries

The Office of Naval Research says that musculoskeletal injuries are hampering military readiness in U.S. Marines.

Now the University of Iowa is using a $2.6 million grant and its unique Virtual Solider to predict and prevent injuries from happening.

"There were a lot of injuries sustained by the military infield, during the basic training," Dr. Karim Abdel-Malek, Director of the Center for Computer-Aided Design. "They want to reduce that, they want to understand it and they want to avoid it."

The virtual solider is a computer program that uses information gathered from real people to see how bodies perform and how injuries can occur.

"You can evaluate where those individuals might be more prone," says Kevin Kregel a Principal Investigator with the Virtual Soldier Research Program. "Then start trying both rehabilitation and preventive types of training."

Preventative training that can condition soldiers better and save them from injury in the first place.

Kregel believes it will save money, training time and enhance performance.

Researchers also brought in the University of Iowa Athletics Department to turn the information gathered from computer simulations into specific training and conditioning plans.

"We're really looking at it from all the different cogs within performance and injury" says Landon Evans, University of Iowa Olympic Sports Trainer. "It's not just a mechanical aspect it's not just a physiological aspect it's the marriage of them all."

It's a marriage of computer engineering, biomechanics and athletics that hopes to keep Marines battle ready.

"If you're able to increase the strengthening the conditioning and do a particular plan for that person then you avoid the injury," says Abdel-Malek.

The virtual solider is being created from the university's virtual human models Santos and Sophia, both can be made to match an individual soldiers unique characteristics.

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