BACKGROUND: Firefighting is a dangerous occupation as more than 60,000 injuries are incurred annually by United States fire personnel. Musculoskeletal injuries associated with strain, sprain, or muscular pain are the most common type of injury on the fireground and are often induced by slip/trip/fall mechanisms. These injuries cost the United States $1.6-5.9 billion, place overtime burden on backfill personnel, and are responsible for substantial pain and suffering. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research on applicable assessments to evaluate a firefighters’ risk of slip/trip/fall injuries. Identifying a valid and reliable injury risk assessment will provide a metric to evaluate the efficacy of injury prevention interventions. Therefore, the purpose of this proposed study is to refine an existing occupationally relevant functional balance test (FBT) and establish the instrument’s face validity, criterion-related validity and test-retest reliability in structural firefighters. METHODS: 30 apparently healthy career structural firefighters (Age: 18-55 yr) will be recruited from a local fire department to complete 3 testing sessions of identical procedures. 6 trials of the FBT will be performed while wearing full personal protective equipment and carrying equipment. The FBT requires the firefighter to walk on a 3.7 m plank while stepping over and bending under obstacles of standardized height as fast as possible, similar to maneuvering on a structural fireground. Time and technical errors are accounted for to produce a Performance Index score. Force plates will be used to assess criterion measures of neuromuscular function including postural sway, single-leg drop landing, and isometric mid-thigh pull assessments. Face validity will be assessed with a questionnaire inquiring about the firefighters’ perception regarding the occupational relevancy of the FBT. Criterion-related validity will be assessed with Pearson Product Moment correlations between FBT vs. force plate balance outcomes. Finally, Cronbach’s alpha will be used to assess the level of intra- and inter-session test-retest reliability of the FBT. The level of significance will be set at p<0.05. ANTICIPATED RESULTS: It is hypothesized that the FBT will demonstrate acceptable levels of face validity, criterion-related validity (r>0.8), and reliability (r>0.9).

This document is currently not available here.