Work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among patients is often treated by healthcare professionals, but MSD is a widespread issue for the very same people treating others. The Disability and Rehabilitation Journal reported that 96% of healthcare providers have had work related MSD during their career, with 50% suffering from MSD within the first 5 years . Being armed with knowledge about body mechanics and ergonomics will keep you healthy as you look after others.
With such a high incidence of MSD, there is no question why body mechanics and ergonomics have become hot topics. Unfortunately, these two terms are used interchangeably when in fact they discuss different aspects of your work as a healthcare provider. Body Mechanics as defined by the American Heritage® Medical Dictionary is “the application of Kinesiology to the use of proper body movement in daily activities, the prevention and correction of problems associated with posture and the enhancement of coordination and endurance” . Whereas, ergonomics as defined by Merriam-Webster is “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely” . Together, utilizing both the knowledge of your body mechanics as well as having equipment that allows for an ergonomic environment will keep you healthy while you look after your patients.
When treating a smaller patient with a fixed height table for example, you will be extending yourself to reach to perform a technique which places you in a poor bio mechanical position. On the other hand, treating a larger patient can cause you to stretch creating a compromising position and increasing your potential for injury. These perilous positions put you at risk for injury without proper body mechanics and suitable ergonomic environment. To prevent this, review your environment to identify the stressor that puts you at risk for injury, this will help you determine your next step.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Ben Franklin
Therapists must assess their workspace and ensure that ergonomically sound equipment is used to help prevent injury. Treatment Tables are the most important factor in an ergonomically designed workplace for therapists. At Cardon we take our job of engineering tables that enable proper positioning seriously, so patients can be treated in a safe and efficient way.
Here are some of the options we have engineered to make an ergonomically superior work environment:
Correct placement of elevation controls is important. Footswitches should be placed in a fixed position that is intuitive to your body so that you are not stretching and looking to find the controls.
A sliding head section will allow your patient to get closer to you, keeping their spine straight. The sliding head section also allows you to get closer to do shoulder work.
Collapsible sides will allow you to get closer to the patient’s body.
A power centre section will provide passive placement of the lumbar spine into flexion, extension, or side flexion. This feature enables accurate positioning for spinal mobilization/manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, muscle energy techniques, and muscle stretching techniques.
Easy rolling casters will provide you with the mobility to move your table to any desired location.
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