Hand Injuries in Military Contact Combat (Krav-Maga)

Daniel Dreyfuss 1 Uri Farkash 2 Shany Funk 3 Uriel Dreyfuss 4
1Hand & Microsurgery Unit, Rambam Health Care Campus, Israel
2Hand & Microsurgery Unit, Meir Medical Center, Israel
3Doctrine and Research Branch, Combat Fitness Department, Wingate Institute, IDF, Israel
4Hand Surgery Service, Department of Orthopedic Surgery B, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, Israel

Objectives: To assess the prevalence and patterns of injury of IDF soldiers training in Krav-Maga (KM), a unique Israeli martial art. Improved understanding of the mechanism of injury may facilitate protective measures for prevention of further training injuries.

Methods: Patient records for all IDF soldiers during the year 2014 were searched for the term KM. The records with relevant KM injuries were reviewed. Overuse injuries were not included. Data was collected from the charts regarding injury type and location, as well as demographic data about the soldier’s gender.

Results: During the year 2014, 916 soldiers suffered 946 traumatic injuries during KM training. 95% occurred in male soldiers. The upper limb was the most frequently injured body part, with the fingers, hand and wrist (31 %) being the most involved region followed by the shoulder (16 %). Twenty eight fractures of the hand and wrist bones and 17 fractures of the finger and thumb bones were diagnosed. Shoulder injuries included 23 dislocations and 24 subluxations.

Discussion: KM involves both striking and grappling elements, and injuries result from both fighting forms. The high prevalence of upper limb injuries during KM training differs from the injury patterns seen in other marital arts, where the head and face are more commonly injured. This is partially due to protective head gear used in KM training, but also due to different combat techniques used. The high incidence of upper limb injuries suggests that preventative measures should focus on improving protective equipment especially of the hand, as well as warm up and training technique modifications, to further minimize injury.