Neuromuscular determinants of simulated occupational performance in career firefighters

Appl Ergon. 2021 Aug 20;98:103555. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2021.103555. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Although firefighters are required to perform various high-intensity critically essential tasks, the influence of neuromuscular function on firefighter occupational performance is unclear. The primary aim of the current study was to identify the key neuromuscular determinants of stair climb (SC) performance in firefighters.

METHODS: Leg extension isometric peak torque (PT), peak power (PP), torque steadiness at 10% (Steadiness10%) and 50% (Steadiness50%) of PT, fatigability following 30 repeated isotonic concentric contractions at 40% of PT, percent body fat (%BF), and a weighted and timed SC task were examined in 41 (age: 32.3 ± 8.2 yrs; %BF: 24.1 ± 7.9%) male career firefighters.

RESULTS: Faster SC times (74.7 ± 13.4 s) were associated with greater PT and PP, less fatigability, younger age, and lower %BF (r = -0.530-0.629; P ≤ 0.014), but not Steadiness10% or Steadiness50% (P ≥ 0.193). Stepwise regression analyses indicated that PP and Steadiness50% were the strongest predictors of SC time (R2 = 0.442, P < 0.001). However, when age and %BF were included in the model, these variables became the only significant predictors of SC time (R2 = 0.521, P < 0.001) due to age and %BF being collectively associated with all the neuromuscular variables (excluding Steadiness10%).

CONCLUSIONS: Lower extremity neuromuscular function, specifically PP and steadiness, and %BF are important modifiable predictors of firefighter SC performance, which becomes increasingly important in aging firefighters.

PMID:34425517 | DOI:10.1016/j.apergo.2021.103555

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