Augustin A.1, Daemon, T.1, Kollock, R. 1, & Hale, D. 1

1The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Adequate handgrip strength in firefighters is needed to perform complex motor tasks such as holding a tool. Upper limb injuries accounted for 17% of total US firefighter injuries during a 12-month period (2016 National Fire Protection Association). Excessive muscle fatigue from lack of grip strength may disrupt firefighters’ attention, increasing risk of injury at the fireground. PURPOSE: Determining the impact of wearing a firefighting specific glove and hand anthropometrics on grip strength. METHODS: Twenty-four healthy college aged (age: 20.6±2.3) students had 4 anthropometric variables of both hands measured: hand length, middle finger length, hand width, and wrist thickness. Participants squeezed the digital hand dynamometer with maximal effort for three seconds before releasing tension for peak force measurement. Two trials were taken from each hand for each condition (structural firefighting glove, no glove, structural firefighting glove with fatigue) alternating hands between measurements. Order of testing, glove and no glove, was randomized. The glove with fatigue condition consisted of a 60sec maximum contraction. RESULTS: Peak force production decreased with glove usage by 26% in the right and 27% in the left, resulting in a significant difference of force production between ungloved and gloved in both hands (p=.001). With the fatigue condition, the mean 60sec force decay of the right was 50.3% and the left was 48.3%, demonstrating significant differences between the initial and final grip strength (p=.001). The anthropometric variables with the strongest correlation coefficients were hand width, specifically the right hand (r=.636, p<.001; r=.755, p<.001; r=.773, p<.001; r=.486, p=.016) for right hand peak, right hand peak with glove, right hand fatigue initial and right-hand fatigue final respectively. The right-hand width and left-hand width were significantly different (r=0.926, p=.016), the only anthropometric showing significant differences between the left and right.

CONCLUSION: Structural firefighter gloves and fatigue significantly impede grip strength while hand width demonstrated an indicator of grip strength. Fire departments may consider using hand anthropometrics to evaluate candidates’ handgrip strength potential.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge.

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