Burn Injury Does Not Exacerbate Heat Strain during Exercise while Wearing Body Armor

Mads Fischer, Matthew N. Cramer, M. U. Huang, Luke N. Belval, Joseph C. Watso, Frank A. Cimino, Craig G. Crandall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction Although evaporative heat loss capacity is reduced in burn-injured individuals with extensive skin grafts, the thermoregulatory strain due to a prior burn injury during exercise-heat stress may be negligible if the burn is located underneath protective clothing with low vapor permeability. Purpose This study aimed to test the hypothesis that heat strain during exercise in a hot-dry environment while wearing protective clothing would be similar with and without a simulated torso burn injury. Methods Ten healthy individuals (8 men/2 women) underwent three trials wearing: Uniform (combat uniform, tactical vest, and replica torso armor plates), uniform with a 20% total body surface area simulated torso burn (uniform + burn), or shorts (and sports bra) only (control). Exercise consisted of treadmill walking (5.3 km·h-1; 3.7% ± 0.9% grade) for 60 min at a target heat production of 6.0 W·kg-1 in 40.0°C ± 0.1°C and 20.0% ± 0.6% relative humidity conditions. Measurements included rectal temperature, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and thermal sensation. Results No differences in rectal temperature (P ≥ 0.85), heart rate (P ≥ 0.99), thermal sensation (P ≥ 0.73), or RPE (P ≥ 0.13) occurred between uniform + burn and uniform trials. In the control trial, however, core temperature, heart rate, thermal sensation, and RPE were lower compared with the uniform and uniform + burn trials (P ≤ 0.04 for all). Conclusions A 20% total body surface area simulated torso burn injury does not further exacerbate heat strain when wearing a combat uniform. These findings suggest that the physiological strain associated with torso burn injuries is not different from noninjured individuals when wearing protective clothing during an acute exercise-heat stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2235-2241
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Burn Survivor
  • Core Temperature
  • Evaporative Heat Loss
  • Exercise-Heat Stress
  • Heat Strain
  • Military

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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