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Backpack usage is common among many age groups, including college students. As students go about their daily routines, they may reach cardiorespiratory fatigue (CRF). CRF achieved via a treadmill workout has been shown to significantly increase body sway during balance tasks compared to pre- fatigue values. Additionally, it has been shown that increasing backpack loads decreases balance ability. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to combine these two ideas to assess the effect of loaded backpack usage on balance by quantitatively measuring balance after a functional daily stair task (FDST) designed to resemble CRF. METHODS: 7 male and 13 female collegiate students (x age = 20.25 ± 1.02 years) participated in two data collection sessions. These subjects were free of any diagnosed lower extremity injuries within the past 6 months. For the first session, subjects performed balance testing using the BioSway (Biodex, USA) immediately before and after the FDST for an unloaded condition. The FDST was performed with subjects starting at a constant cadence and gradually increasing cadence until the subject reached 85% of their age-predicted maximum heart rate (HRmax). Once this HRmax was reached, subjects continued to climb at that cadence for 3 more minutes before completing the post-FDST balance testing. The Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) and Limits of Stability (LOS) test protocols were randomly assigned for each participant. Within 2 weeks after completing the protocol for the unloaded condition, subjects completed the same protocol for the loaded backpack condition. RESULTS: A paired samples t-test using SPSS Statistics 24 demonstrated no significance (p ≤ 0.05) for any of the balance scores: BESS Double (0.047 ± 0.360), BESS Single (0.259 ± 1.371), BESS Tandem (0.567 ± 1.225), LOS Time (4.150 ± 23.922 sec), and LOS Accuracy (4.500 ± 21.117 %). CONCLUSION: The data indicated when comparing balance scores before and after the FDST, adding a backpack load does not significantly affect the subjects’ balance. This data could be applicable for students, the elderly, or individuals in the military.

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