Col. Goss and his research team were preparing to conduct a study, START: Simple Technology Assessing Running Technique. The study aims to identify traits in Soldiers’ gait that may be indicative of imminent lower extremity injuries.

Brigade Commander Colonel Marc Hoffmeister, of the 20th Engineer Brigade and Major Brandon Drobenak of the 27th Engineer Battalion met Colonel Don Goss of the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point in fall 2017.

Col. Goss and his research team were preparing to conduct a study, START: Simple Technology Assessing Running Technique. The study aims to identify traits in Soldiers’ gait that may be indicative of imminent lower extremity injuries.

To conduct this study, Col. Goss and his research team were seeking volunteers to wear a Milestone Pod attached to the shoelace of their shoes. Col. Hoffmeister was glad to allow this study to be conducted within his brigade, specifically volunteers from the 27th Eng. Bn.

The Milestone Pods were provided by the West Point research team from a research grant with no labor requirements or cost from the brigade for participation in the study. The research team from Keller Army Community Hospital, along researchers from Womack Army Medical Center, held informational briefings at the 20th Eng. Bde. to recruit their research participants. Soldiers who volunteer for participation are asked to wear the Milestone Pod during all weekly physical training activities for approximately six weeks.

The pods detect step rate (steps per minute), step length, distance run, foot strike pattern, and rate of impact loading. As an incentive for participation, Soldiers who volunteered will receive a Milestone Pod at the end of the study.

After the six weeks are complete, the pods will be returned to the research teams for data syncing, then be returned to the Soldiers. Soldiers will then be able to use these pods almost as a Fitbit, Garman and/or Apple watch, keeping track of their physical activities via an app. These pods, like many other products, have different features, providing the users with both real-time and post run feedback.

The intent of the study is to improve readiness by identifying parameters which promote healthy running and reduce injury, contributing to the reduction in the number of non-deployable Soldiers due to musculoskeletal injuries.