Maddie Fulk1, Zora Szabo1, Maddie Seidner1, William D. Hale1, & Roger O. Kollock1

1The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Injuries resulting from slips, trips, and falls (STF) combined account for 23% of all fireground injuries. There is evidence to suggest that the high number of injuries resulting from STFs may be related to a firefighter’s ability to maintain stability on slippery or unstable surfaces. Practitioners can use tools such as the modified version of the y-balance test (i.e., motor control screen) to screen for balance deficits. Evidence suggests normalized anterior (nANT) reach distance is a significant predictor of injury. Currently, there is no literature exploring the effect age may have on nANT. If age significantly influences nANT reach, older firefighters (FF) may be at greater risk for injury. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine if nANT reach differs across age groups. METHODS: The study was a retrospective analysis of archived data from a local fire department’s annual fitness assessment. As part of their annual fitness assessment, firefighters performed an anterior (ANT) reach using the motor control screen (MCS). The FFs performed the MCS on both the right and left legs. The ANT reach was measured using the slide box of the MCS. ANT reach distance was normalized using the following equation: reach distance (cm)/leg length (cm). Data from 95 male FFs were analyzed. FFs were allocated to one of four groups based on their age: 20-29 yrs (n=19), 30-39 yrs (n=36), 40-49 yrs (n=34), 50-59 yrs (n=6). The Kruskal-Wallis H Test was used to explore between-group differences. RESULTS: A Kruskal-Wallis H test was used to determine if nANT differed across age groups [20-29 yrs (right: mean=80±9%, med=78%; left: mean=78±11%, med=79%), 30-39 yrs (right: mean=76±8%, med=77%; left: mean=76±8%, med=76%), 40-49 yrs (right: mean=77±8%, med=77%; left: mean=77±8%, med=77%), 50-59 yrs (right: mean=75±7%, med=74%; left: mean=74±7%, med=74%)]. Distributions of values were not similar for all groups, as assessed by visual inspection of a boxplot. The distribution of normalized anterior reach distance did not significantly differ across age groups for both the right (H(3) = 2.48, p = 0.479) and left legs (H(3) = 0.1.51, p = 0.680). CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that in FFs 20-59 years of age, age does not appear to significantly influence nANT reach.

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