MacDermid J.1, Negm A.2, Sinden K.3, D'Amico R.4
1Hand and Uper Limb Centre, Physical Theapy, Western University, London, Canada, 2McMaster University, Rehabilitation Science, Hamliton, Canada, 3Lakehead University, Kinesiology, Thunderbay, Canada, 4Hamilton Fire Service, Hamilton, Canada

Background: Work-related injuries impose a significant health and economic burden and contribute to lost productivity. Firefighters have high rates of work-related injuries due to high physical demands of their job tasks. Prevalence can support targeted prevention and rehabilitation interventions for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Purpose: To describe the prevalence of self-reported MSDs; and how the prevalence and severity of MSDs varies by age, tenure, height and weight.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 294 firefighters from the City of Hamilton Fire Service (Ontario, Canada). Demographics and anthropometry (age, gender, height and weight, duration of firefighting service) were recorded. Firefighter designated on a body diagram of the Iconic Pain Assessment Tool (IPAT) all of the pain they felt on their body within the past week. Firefighters completed the relevant region-specific surveys, if pain was present: Neck Disability Index (NDI),Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), Lower Extremity Functional Scale (LEFS), Short Form of Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (Quick DASH).

Results: The 294 active-duty firefighters had a mean age 42.6 (9.7) and mean duration of service of 15.1 (10.1) years. The prevalence of neck, back, upper limb, and lower limb symptoms was: 20%, 33%, 44%, and 45% respectively. Firefighters 42 years or older reported significantly more severe lower extremity disability (LEFS: 71 (65,77) vs.75 (69.5,78.5) P = 0.03) and more severe back disability (RMDQ: 2 (1,3) vs.1 (0,2) P = 0.04). Firefighters with 15 years or more of firefighting service reported significantly more severe lower extremity disability (LEFS: 71 (64,77) vs.76 (70,79) P = 0.0005). Firefighters reporting more than one MSD were significantly older than firefighters reporting no MSDs (F(5,285) = 3.3, P = 0.002).

Conclusion(s): The rate of MSD is high in firefighters and the severity is elevated with age and tenure implicating cumulative exposures.

Implications: Physical therapists should develop primary prevention specific to firefighters; and insure that injured firefighters are fully prepared for active duty to reduce re-injury..

Funding acknowledgements: Canada Institutes of Health Research FRN: 114112.

Topic: Occupational health & ergonomics

Ethics approval: McMaster University

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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