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The Federal government has awarded the University of South Florida (USF), School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences $1.42 million to research the effectiveness of specific exercise interventions for reducing the risk of back injuries amongst some of the nation’s most vulnerable — firefighters and military personnel.
“Back injury is a primary condition that dramatically affects our nation’s heroes — cited as a top reason for disability and early retirement amongst firefighters, and a top non-combat reason for service men and women being displaced from active duty,” says John Mayer, D.C., Ph.D, associate professor and Lincoln College Endowed Chair in Biomechanical and Chiropractic Research at USF, and lead researcher in the $715,000 Department of Defense (DOD) and $701,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) studies. “These studies will be the first to be led by a Doctor of Chiropractic at a major university that will attempt to identify the preventive outcomes of applying specific exercise interventions amongst firefighters and soldiers.”
Each study will be conducted in several phases carried out over the next few years.
With research already in progress, the FEMA study will include 106 participants headquartered at a Tampa, Fla., fire department. Participants will undergo 24 weeks of bi-weekly supervised training sessions consisting of particular stability and resistance exercises with the goal of improving back muscular endurance — commonly documented as a direct link to back pain.
Expected to begin in spring 2012, the DOD study will include 600 active duty US Army soldiers and will provide a perspective that complements traditional directions of treatment-focus. Instead, the study will assess preventive methods by implementing and evaluating targeted high intensity exercise interventions designed to strengthen the back extensor muscles.
“Chiropractic engagement with regards to specific exercise interventions and their potential to prevent back conditions has continued to gain momentum,” says Mayer. “Federal agencies are now recognizing the skills of Doctors of Chiropractic to address prevention and treatment of back injury for our national heroes.”
To learn more about either study, visit www.health.usf.edu.