Law-enforcement officers increasingly wear body armour for protection; wearing body armour is common practice in military populations. Law-enforcement and military occupational demands are vastly different and military-styled body armour may not be suitable for law-enforcement. This study investigated differences between selected military body armour (MBA: 6.4 kg) and law-enforcement body armour (LEBA: 2.1 kg) in impacts on postural sway, vertical jump, agility, a functional movement screen (FMS), task simulations (vehicle exit; victim recovery), and subjective measures. Ten volunteer police officers (six females, four males) were randomly allocated to one of the designs on each of two days. Body armour type did not significantly affect postural sway, vertical jump, vehicle exit and 5 m sprint times, or victim recovery times. Both armour types increased sway velocity and sway-path length in the final five seconds compared to the first 5 s of a balance task. The MBA was associated with significantly slower times to complete the agility task, poorer FMS total scores, and poorer subjective ratings of performance and comfort. The LEBA was perceived as more comfortable and received more positive performance ratings during the agility test and task simulations. The impacts of MBA and LEBA differed significantly and they should not be considered interchangeable.
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