Jacob Thomas1, Alex Long1, Cameron McLaury1, Davis Hale1, Gabriel Sanders2, Will Peveler3, J. Jay Dawes4, Roger Kollock1 1University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma; 2Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky;3Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia; 4Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Twenty percent of firefighter injuries at the fireground are attributed to trips, slips, falls, and jumps. While at the fireground, firefighters are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) weighing approximately 19kg. Little research has been conducted regarding the influence of load on the ability to maintain balance. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of load on limits of stability(LoS)in fire cadets. METHODS: Twenty-six male fire cadets (26.15±4.16 yrs; 178.92±6.27cm, 86.61±9.09 kg)were recruited for this study. Participants completed a balance task under two conditions: unloaded and loaded. For the unloaded condition, participants wore shorts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. For the loaded condition, participants wore a self-contained breathing apparatus, turnout coat, pants, boots, hood, gloves and helmet. For each condition, participants performed two 30-secondbalancetests. The first test(normal stability/quite stance)required the participants to stand as still as possible on a50cm x 46cmbalance platform with their eyes open, hands on hips and feet equidistant from the midline of the balance platform at a width equal to their shoe length. Upon completion of the first test, the participants immediately performed test two(LoS). The second test required the participants to shift their center of mass forward, backward, left and right as far possible without losing their balance. The main outcome measure was LoS score. A LoS score range from 0% to100%. A LoS score of 100% indicates that the participant was able to maintain perfect stillness during the normal stability test (test 1). A paired sample t-test was calculated to compare the mean unloaded LoS score to the mean loaded LoS score. RESULTS: No significant difference was found in LoS scores between unloaded (89.88±3.83) and loaded (89.15±4.84) conditions (t(25)=.677, p>.504, 95% IC=-1.49 to 2.95). CONCLUSION: Firefighter specific loads related to PPE do not significantly effect afire cadet’s stability during a quite stance under normal visual conditions. Further research should focus on the effects of load on dynamic postural control in cadets, as load may have a greater effect on balance while in motion.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This study was funded by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology #HR18-054.

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