A study being done at USF could lead to fewer back aches and longer careers.
Dr. John Mayer of USF Health
is spearheading a $1.3 million study that will analyze how exercise can prevent lower back injury. The study is specifically looking at how worksite exercise can prevent low back injury in firefighters. USF and Tampa Fire Rescue
have launched randomized controlled trial tests. Eventually other fire departments in St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County will be included.
So why focus solely on firefighters?
“Firefighting is one of the most stressful occupations in the world,” says Mayer. “Firefighters work in an extremely dangerous, physically demanding, and psychological stressful work environment. Given this environment, firefighters have very high rates of disabling back pain and injury, as well as other wellness concerns.”
Mayer goes on to explain that lower back pain and injury is the top cause of early retirement and disability for firefighters. He also says that he and his team are currently working on a feasibility assessment to expand the back injury prevention research to other high-risk occupations, such as police officers.
Based on the results of the current study, Mayer says the back and core exercise programs can then be shared with the general public in an effort to prevent low back injury in all populations.
“If effective, we will make results available to the general public, and lead efforts for dissemination, knowledge translation and implementation for the general public and high-risk occupations,” Mayer says. “Results of our study will be made available through our website, training, scientific journals, peer magazines and presentations.”