Task-specific effects of modular body armor
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Eleven recreationally active males performed 11 circuits of military work, wearing torso armor on one occasion, and full armor on another. Performance was measured by the time taken to complete individual tasks, and the overall time to completion (TTC) for each circuit. Heart rate, intestinal temperature, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and thermal sensation were recorded after each circuit. Participants’ circuit TTC was no different between conditions; however, specific tasks were differentially impeded by the two armor configurations. Vaulting and crawling were significantly slower (0.28 ± 0.06 and 0.55 ± 0.26 seconds) in full armor; however, box lifting and shooting weresignificantly slower (0.36 ± 0.18 and 0.86 ± 0.23 seconds) when wearing torso armor. Heart rate and core temperature were significantly higher during the full armor trial (5 ± 1 beats min-1 and 0.22 ± 0.03°C). Similarly, RPE and thermal sensation were significantly higher (1 ± 0 and 0.5 ± 0.0) during the full armor condition. Military tasks were differentially impaired by the armor configurations used, which suggests a need to explore role-specific armor for military personnel. Physiological and perceptual responses were elevated in full armor, which could be exacerbated during longer periods of work or in hot conditions.
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