Functional Balance Assessment of Firefighters during Mass-Screening Examinations


  • Rachel M. Eiler NovaCare Rehabilitation
  • Zachary K. Winkelmann University of South Carolina
  • Kenneth E. Games Indiana State University



Pre-participation Exams and Screening, Emerging Settings


Firefighters are tactical athletes who are required to complete rigorous tasks as part of their job functions. The focus of this clinical outcomes assessment was to assess functional balance assessment through the use of the anterior reach test with and without personal protective equipment (PPE) during a mass-screening examination. The screening was completed with 61 active firefighters in a local fire department with access to athletic training services. The results of the anterior reach assessment identified a significant difference of a firefighter’s anterior reach when donning and doffing PPE. Anterior reach distances were significantly reduced (P < 0.001) on the right leg with (mean = 55.78 cm ± 7.53 cm) and without PPE (mean = 58.92 cm ± 6.47 cm). Similarly, significant decrements (P = 0.003) in left leg anterior reach distance in firefighters donning (mean = 57.67 cm ±8.25 cm) and doffing (mean = 59.82 cm ± 6.31 cm) PPE. Clinical application of these findings suggests that healthcare providers working with tactical athletes, specifically firefighters, should consider the risks associated with donning PPE such as functional balance deficits.

Author Biography

Rachel M. Eiler, NovaCare Rehabilitation

Dr. Rachel Eiler is a certified and licensed athletic trainer and a graduate of the Indiana State University Doctorate in Athletic Training Program. Dr. Eiler serves as an industrial specialist as a contractor for Delta Air Lines, employed through NovaCare Rehabilitation.






Clinical Outcomes Research

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