Dr. Mayer Awarded $1.3M FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant

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Dr. John Mayer, Lincoln Endowed Chair of Biomechanical & Chiropractic Research and Coordinator of Research for the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences (SPTRS), has been awarded a Department of Homeland Security / FEMA Assistance of Firefighters Grant totaling $1,332,106, including a 5% extramural match from the Florida Chiropractic Research Foundation. This grant, titled “Worksite exercise interventions for low back injury prevention in firefighters,” is the largest single commitment from FEMA’s Assistance of Firefighters Grants, Fire Prevention and Safety research program specifically aimed at interventions for back injury prevention.

The 3-year project is phase 3 of Dr. Mayer’s on-going FEMA-funded research initiative on preventing low back injury and illness in firefighters. Phase 1 of this initiative demonstrated a link between poor back muscular fitness and low back pain in firefighters. Phase 2 demonstrated that a work-site exercise intervention is safe and effective in improving back and core muscular endurance in firefighters. Phase 3, the current study, will assess the clinical effectiveness of supervised and web-based exercise interventions performed over 12 months on preventing low back injury and illness in firefighters.

For the current study, USF SPTRS will partner with the three largest fire departments in the Tampa Bay region of Florida – Tampa Fire Rescue, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, and St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue. Other USF investigators on this project include William S. (Sandy) Quillen, PT, DPT, PhD, FACSM, Associate Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine and Director of SPTRS; and Henian Chen, PhD of the Morsani College of Medicine and USF College of Public Health.

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.