The wellness initiative within the tactical community has inspired exercise science professionals to collaborate with police departments, fire departments, military bases, academies, and universities to provide new innovations in wellness services. As data builds within the published literature discussing injury rates, cause of injury, and details of injury scenarios within the firefighting community, it is time for academics to catch up on publishing literature in regard to injury prevention/management programs.
To assist in combating the statistics of firefighter injuries, Hussien Jabai, MS, CSCS, has been working alongside the Melissa Fire Department as a tactical strength and conditioning instructor. In 2018, Mr. Jabai volunteered to provide a 12-week pilot study to display the benefits of an organized and research-driven injury prevention program. Although the pilot study was not published, Mr. Jabai constructed pre and post testing to illustrate the impact that the strength and conditioning program has on performance and movement patterns. The program incorporated dynamic warm up sequences, corrective exercise, strength training methods, circuit training, and variations of interval training. The positive results of the post-test were presented to the administration of the department and the city for program funding requests. Since 2019, Hussien Jabai has been providing strength and conditioning programming for the department and consulting with administration on program development.
As a former graduate student of Texas A&M University in Commerce, Mr. Jabai reached out to his former professor and colleague Dr. Michael Oldham, in the Human Performance Department, to collaborate on firefighter research. Dr. Oldham and Mr. Jabai worked together to complete the review of past literature and construct a research proposal to acquire IRB approval. The primary objective of the research was to evaluate the impact of a 6-week strength and conditioning program on lumbar spine mobility in full-time firefighters. The phrase “full-time” is key in the research protocol, as a standard schedule for full-time personnel requires being at the station every 3 days for a 24-hour shift. Physical activity can be mandated for firefighters during shift but cannot be mandated off-shift. Additionally, the research project aims to identify the pros and cons of restricted training schedules, e.g., every 3 days.
The highlight of the research revolves around the unique testing method of utilizing the DARI Motion Capture System. DARI, a cutting edge markerless motion capture system, allows the research to be done remotely, without the use of reflective markers for motion capture.
Pre-testing with the DARI System consisted of 3 consecutive days, covering all 3 shifts (Shift A, B, and C). Dr. Oldham, accompanied by graduate research assistants of the Human Performance Department of TAMUC, brought the system to the Melissa Fire Department. The DARI system was set up by Dr. Oldham and the graduate research assistants within the bay of the station an hour prior to the scheduled testing time. Dr. Oldham and his assistants were responsible for set up and utilization of the DARI system. Prior to participating in testing, firefighters read and signed informed consent / liability forms. Post movement analysis via DARI and report explanation, Mr. Jabai coordinated the fitness instruction portion of the study. Mr. Jabai had firefighters walk through the exercise prescription portion of the study to evaluate form and provide modifications when needed. Jabai also discussed protocol for progression of repetitions, training load, and rest durations. Firefighters were also notified to complete a Google form post training to document session completion and provide feedback. As the availability within the fire community is unpredictable due to spontaneous emergency calls, the group of exercise science professionals freed up their entire morning schedules to allow for gaps between testing participants. The pre-testing has been complete, firefighters are currently at the early stages of their 6-week exercise prescription, and post-testing will be scheduled in the next few weeks to evaluate program effectiveness.
TTSCA would like to encourage exercise science professionals to contribute in the mission toward a higher quality of wellness within the tactical community. We would love to collaborate with departments and tactical professionals around the nation, and worldwide. If you need a strength and conditioning program, would love to collaborate on research, are interested in annual fitness testing, or would like to meet with a TSAC Consultant, please complete our CONTACT FORM and note your purpose of communication.
Author: Hussien Jabai, MS, CSCS