Effect of boot weight and material on gait characteristics of men and women fire fighters.
Chiou S; Turner N; Zwiener J; Weaver D; Spahr J; Pan C
NOIRS 2008-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 21-23, 2008, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2008 Oct; :P34
Introduction: According to NFPA, there were an estimated 83,400 fire fighter injuries in 2006, and overexertion and falls accounted for approximately half of those injuries. Fire fighters have traditionally worn heavily insulated rubberized boots as protective footwear. These boots can add an extra 10 pounds to a fire fighter, which may increase their risks for overexertion and fall injuries. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of boot weight and material on fire fighters' gait characteristics and lower extremity movements. Methods: Fifteen men and fifteen women fire fighters (31.3+/-5.2 years) were tested for regular gait or gait while carrying hose while wearing different rubber or leather boots of varying weights. A motion-analysis system and two force platforms were used to quantify gait and posture changes associated with different boots. Spatio-temporal gait parameters and body dynamics of fire fighters were evaluated during simulated firefighting tasks. Results: The Repeated Measure ANOVA revealed significant gait changes associated with boot types, including reductions in cadence and increases in percentage of double-stance time with heavier boots (p<0.001). The increases in the time when both feet were in contact with the floor suggest greater energy cost and a longer time was needed for the body to reestablish stability from one step to another. There were significant reductions in sagittal range of motion at ankles (p<0.001) and increases in hip internal and knee external angles (p<0.01) when wearing rubber boots. As the weight of boots increased, ankle ranges of motion decreased. Discussion: This study demonstrates that boot types affect fire fighters' gait characteristics and lower extremity kinematics. Findings from this study are useful for fire fighters and boot manufacturers in boot selection and design modifications, to reduce biomechanical stresses of the lower extremity and to improve gait performance.
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