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Article Title

THE EFFECTS OF LOAD ON STATIC STABILITY IN FIRE CADETS

Abstract

Alex Long1, Jacob Thomas1, 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

Firefighters are required to wear specialized equipment and gear while on duty,in training, and on the fireground. This additional load may lead to increased injury risk due to loss of balance. Little research has been conducted regarding the influence of load on static stability within fire and rescue. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of load on static stability in fire cadets. METHODS: Twenty-six male fire cadets(26.15±4.16 yrs; 178.92±6.27 cm, 86.61±9.09 kg)were recruited for this study. Participants were asked to complete a 30-second 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. The trial required participants to stand on a 50cm x 46cm balance platform with their eyes open and their feet equidistant from the midline of the balance platform at a width equal to their shoe size. Participants maintained their center of mass while centering their vision on a mark in front of them. The main outcome measure was a stationary stability score. 100% indicates that the participant maintained perfect stillness. 0% indicates that the participant lost their balance completely. A Wilcoxon test was used to compare the loaded and unloaded static stability scores. RESULTS: Unloaded stability scores(93.17±2.13)were not significantly different (Z = -0.038, p > 0.05)from loaded stability scores(93.25±2.44). CONCLUSION: Firefighter specific equipment and gear did not have a significant effect on a fire cadet’s static stability under normal visual conditions. Further research should focus on postural control under eyes-closed scenarios that simulate the low light smoke-filled environment often encountered at the fireground.

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

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