Effect of firefighters' personal protective equipment on gait

The biomechanical experiment with eight male and four female firefighters demonstrates that the effect of adding essential equipment: turnout ensemble, self-contained breathing apparatus, and boots (leather and rubber boots), significantly restricts foot pronation. This finding is supported by a decrease in anterior-posterior and medial-lateral excursion of center of plantar pressure (COP) trajectory during walking. The accumulation of this equipment decreases COP velocity and increases foot-ground contact time and stride time, indicating increased gait instability. An increase in the flexing resistance of the boots is the major contributor to restricted foot pronation and gait instability as evidenced by the greater decrease in excursion of COP in leather boots (greater flexing resistance) than in rubber boots (lower resistance). The leather boots also shows the greatest increase in foot contact time and stride time. These negative impacts can increase musculoskeletal injuries in unfavorable fire ground environments.

Source: Park H, Kim S, Morris K, Moukperian M, Moon Y, Stull. J. Appl. Ergon, 2015; 48: 42-48.

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