$1.3 M FEMA-Funded Research Project Shows the Effectiveness of Web-Based Exercise Programs for Back Pain Prevention Among Firefighters

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Preliminary results of a new study conducted by the University of Southern Florida in partnership with WebExercises suggest that web-based exercise programs are more effective in preventing back pain among firefighters than supervised exercise sessions.

Preliminary results of a new study suggest that web-based exercise programs are more effective in preventing back pain among firefighters than supervised exercise sessions. These results were presented at the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, Fire Prevention & Safety, Research & Development Annual Meeting on August 9, 2018 in Dallas, TX.

In the current study, firefighters who performed an on-duty back and core exercise program, delivered via a web-based application, experienced less lost work time due to low back pain or injury.

About the study: The study was a full-scale injury prevention trial that was sponsored by FEMA through a Fire Prevention & Safety, Assistance to Firefighters Grant, and was conducted at the University of South Florida. The participants were divided into 3 groups: supervised exercise, web-based exercise, or control. Content and technology for the web-based exercise group was provided by WebExercises Inc, a San Francisco based healthcare technology company as part of a joint venture team that developed the web-based system that was tested in this study.

Both exercise groups performed a 10-min series of core and back exercises every time they were on duty, twice per week for 1 year. The web-based exercise intervention program consisted of an application with detailed exercise videos and automated exercise progressions based on user feedback. The participants of the control group received 1 hour of education on general health and wellness. All participants continued their usual fitness routines. The main indicator of each group’s success was the reduction of lost work time related to low back pain or injury compared to the control group.

Findings: Both exercise groups experienced less lost work time than the control group. Furthermore, the firefighters using the web-based exercise program lost even less work time than the firefighters in the supervised exercise group. For each hour of lost work time, due to low back pain or injury experienced by the web-based exercise group, the control group experienced 5.51 hours of lost work time; and the supervised group experienced 4.8 hours of lost work time. These finding suggest the web-based group demonstrated nearly 5 times less lost time from work than the supervised and control groups.

Dr. David Cruz, president and founder of WebExercises summarizes contribution of his company to the project as follows: “We wanted to provide a solution that is easy to access, user friendly, and engaging. Apart from that, we believe that utilizing detailed video instructions was crucial for making the participants successful. Our main motivation was to create a solution the firefighters could easily implement into their daily routine to reduce the high injury rates within this demographic.

About WebExercises: WebExercises Inc is a privately-owned healthcare technology company form San Francisco founded by Dr. David Cruz with the vision of providing patients and healthcare providers with solutions that can maximize the outcomes of their care through better patient education and engagement. The findings of the research project together with the University of Southern Florida further fosters the company’s belief that engaging healthcare technology can be used effectively to improve treatment results. Based on the insights of this study and data that has been collected over the past 10 years, WebExercises has developed a new and updated version of its platform that will be launched later this year. Apart from that, WebExercises started its own education platform providing healthcare professionals with insights from top leaders of the sports medicine industry.

“New study shows benefits of worksite exercise for prevention of lost work time related to low back pain and injury in firefighters.” U.S. Spine & Sport Foundation, San Diego, CA, August 30, 2018. http://www.usspineandsportfoundation.com/san-diego-ca-august-29-2018-new-study-shows-benefits-of-worksite-exercise-for-prevention-of-lost-work-time-related-to-low-back-pain-and-injury-in-firefighters/

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