“Load is not a new issue for field commanders to consider,” says Van Emmerik, who is director of UMass Amherst’s Sensory-Motor Control Laboratory. “But while past studies typically focused on how load affects gait and the lower body, we will for the first time look at how the upper body, trunk and head coordinate in a soldier who is burdened by a heavy load, which is a fundamentally different and a more complex situation.”
Doctoral candidate Christopher Palmer, an Army employee who is an expert in motor control and military performance and a key member of Van Emmerik’s team, adds, “To us, gait is just the beginning. We’ll introduce a visual search task and track the coordination of upper body, postural control and visual acuity. No study has yet added all these, plus other factors, together in a realistic way to look at how load affects the soldier’s ability to perceive threats, his or her operational effectiveness and survivability in combat.”
You know, for half the money, I can tell you much faster that a heavy load makes life much, much more difficult for a grunt.