School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


7 Apr 2017

Loughborough University and MOD join forces to tackle tendon injuries in the armed forces

Loughborough University has joined forces with the Ministry of Defence to try and help UK military personnel with tendon injuries.

Approximately 60% of medical discharges in the armed forces are associated with musculoskeletal injuries (MSKI).

To try and reduce the number of MSKI the University’s National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands (NCSEM-EM) is collaborating with Headley Court’s Academic Department of Military Rehabilitation (ADMR) on the BEFIT (Biomechanical Associations and Efficacy of Injectable Therapies in Tendinopathy) study.

BEFIT, which has been funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), brings together university academics and MOD collaborators to investigate risk factors and treatment of tendon pain in the regular armed forces.

The main focus of the project is a randomised controlled trial investigating the effect of high volume injection therapy in Achilles and patellar tendinopathy. There have been some encouraging results from other centres but currently there is no controlled study to provide evidence for the use of these injections in military personnel.

Commenting on the importance of this programme, the Director of Defence Rehabilitation, Col John Etherington said: “Reducing MSKI remains our main effort in improving the health and operational readiness of our personnel. We know that approximately 60% of medical downgradings and 60% of medical discharges are associated with MSKI.

“Getting the very best treatment at the right place and at the right time is key to us helping our personnel fulfil their potential. I am delighted that we have been able to pool resources in this type of project to drive forward best practice.”

Gp Capt Alex Bennett, the Head of Research at Headley Court and Defence Professor for Rehabilitation, described the need for this research within defence: “This well designed clinical trial has been approved not only by the MOD Research Ethics Committee but also the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and gives us the best opportunity to test fully whether these injections can benefit our patients.”

Professor Mark Lewis, Dean of the School of Sport Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University said: “The relationship between Loughborough University and the Academic Department of Military Rehabilitation at Headley Court via the NCSEM is of critical importance to the university.

“This project not only cements that relationship but, more importantly, has the potential to deliver huge benefits to tendinopathy sufferers in the UK military and more widely to the general public. We are grateful to the HEFCE for supporting this project through a Catalyst fund.”

A dedicated BEFIT study clinic has been established at DMRC Headley Court. Anyone with questions about the research programme should email Sqn Ldr Robert Barker-Davies at or phone 95238 ext 7497 or 01372371310.