Auburn and the Soldier-Athlete

Military Jun 17, 2010

The Army’s emphasis on training recruits as “soldier-athletes” inspired Col. Terrence McKenrick, commander of the 192d Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., to reach out to Auburn kinesiologist JoEllen Sefton. Each year, an estimated 14,000 soldiers cycle through nine weeks of basic combat training or fourteen weeks of infantry training.

And six days a week, board-certified athletic trainers – students in Auburn’s graduate athletic training program – start work at 4 a.m. to diagnose injuries, teach rehabilitative techniques and evaluate soldiers for potential injuries. Injured soldiers receive immediate treatment enabling them to resume training quickly, and saving a trip to the Troop Medical Centers (TMCs). The Auburn trainers work closely with the Army’s physical therapists and other medical personnel to provide an additional type of medical care for the soldiers who train in the 192d.

“We are musculoskeletal specialists so we can help in this area,” says Sefton, director of Auburn’s Graduate Athletic Training Program. “For every soldier we treat, we save the Army a $250 visit to the TMC. Our presence allows the Army medical personnel more time to treat other medical conditions.”

Lt. Col. Weiler, commander of the 2-54 Infantry Brigade has seen a decline in the number of soldiers who restart training because of injury — another cost reduction. “We’ve already seen a significant decrease in the severity of injuries since the program started,” he said. “We are catching injuries earlier and getting them looked at sooner.”

The Warrior Athletic Training Program in the 192d Infantry Brigade is just beginning its second year and has already expanded. With a new focus on injury prevention and research, Sefton sees many opportunities not only to treat soldiers’ injuries, but to stop them before they occur.

Principal Investigator

Dr. JoEllen Sefton

Contact Dr. Sefton at 334-844-4483, or

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