Thomas McGlone, a final-year Sports Therapy, Health and Fitness student at the University’s Medway campus, is researching the effects of altitude on soldiers’ training and performance.
As part of his dissertation, he is putting the soldiers through a fitness test to assess their physical performance, while introducing the added stress of oxygen deprivation. This mimics the kind of environment they might encounter during a mountain warfare campaign.
Soldiers who are volunteering to take part in the research project are from the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME), in Chatham Maritime. The RSME trains Royal Engineers as specialists in combat and construction engineering for the British Army.
The soldiers’ physical test involves running on a treadmill in full combat uniform, while carrying a 42-pound pack and wearing a mask which limits the supply of oxygen. This allows Mr McGlone to create breathing conditions similar to those encountered in mountains, up to a height of 3,500 metres.
The research was carried out within the state-of-the-art sports and human performance testing laboratory at the University’s Centre for Sports Studies.
The student, who served in the army before enrolling at the University of Kent, said he hoped his research project would bring benefits to any soldiers likely to be facing a period of altitude acclimatisation, particularly in the mountains of Afghanistan. ‘The tests I have carried out have measured heart rate, oxygen saturation level, pulse rate and rates of exertion, while examining the effects on the body of differing altitudes, from sea level to the tops of mountains,’ he said.
‘The soldiers who have volunteered to help with my project have been very receptive and described it as a useful addition to the training they’ll undertake once overseas.’
Steve Meadows, a lecturer for the Centre for Sports Studies, helped supervise the project, and said he was impressed with Mr McGlone’s research. ‘Thomas’s research ideas are innovative, and I’m impressed that he is applying his sporting knowledge to other areas – in this case, the preparation for military campaigns. I know he will be delighted to pass on the results of his research to the army,’ he said.
The University’s Centre for Sports Studies is located within the award-winning Medway Building and offers a wide range of facilities to its students, including a rehabilitation gym and a 12-couch teaching clinic. The Centre also operates a commercial sports injury and rehabilitation clinic on campus.
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