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Effects of body armor design on upper body range of motion

NCJ Number
Christopher Blackledge ; et al
Date Published
October 2009

The objective of this study was to assess the effects of body armor design on range of motion for the shoulder, neck, and back.


Body armor for law enforcement personnel is critical in ensuring the safety and protection of these individuals, though literature on the impact of body armor design on task performance is not readily available in the public domain. In the current study, three armor configurations [no armor (Baseline), concealable body armor (CBA), and external body armor (EBA)] were studied. Results indicated that for most measurements, the EBA condition resulted in significantly lower ranges of motion that the other configurations and most measurements were similar between the baseline and CBA condition. Specific differences in the body armor designs (e.g., the presence of shoulder protectors) may be responsible for many of these findings. Therefore, changes to current armor designs should carefully consider the impacts of additional coverage elements on human movement. (Publisher abstract provided)