Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2012

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technique CLASSROOM TO CLIENT | @WORK | ENERGY WORK | MYOFASCIAL TECHNIQUES Nurses' Injuries Bringing Care to Caregivers By Whitney Lowe With more than 5 million nurses working today, nursing ranks as the largest of the health-care professions.1 Given the type of work nurses do and the stresses they endure, it is not surprising that nursing has such a high rate of musculoskeletal injuries tied to it. Physical demand is a primary reason nurses choose to downgrade their work hours, request administrative nursing roles, or even leave the profession.2 Today, many facilities find they have serious staff shortages due muscles lie close to the spine to the dearth of qualified nursing professionals, resulting in increased pressure and demands on existing workers. While there is movement toward creating ergonomic solutions to the physical demands of nursing (such as using equipment to move patients), the fact is, nursing is a physically demanding occupation with long hours. An ominous problem is brewing as the baby boomer population reaches an age of increased need, while the nationwide shortage of nurses is expected to increase. Keeping nurses healthy and bringing them back to health should be key goals. Massage therapy can be a strong player in meeting these goals, particularly because of the skill and focus our profession has on musculoskeletal soft-tissue challenges. 1 PREVALENCE OF MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURIES Of the various musculoskeletal disorders that affect nurses, low-back injury is far and away the most common complaint. A recent study found that 60 percent of musculoskeletal injuries among nursing students involved low-back pain.3 Following low-back pain, disorders of the Lumbar muscles are close to the axis of rotation in the spine for flexion and extension, and are in a challenging mechanical position. 3D anatomy images. Copyright of Primal Pictures Ltd. www.primalpictures.com. ankle, foot, knee, neck, shoulder, and upper extremities are reported. Musculoskeletal injuries can cause serious disabilities for nurses and excessive costs for their employers. Unfortunately, these workers are sometimes redirected into lower-paying, non-nursing work because of their injuries.4 Without proper treatment and attention to contributing factors, the tasks demanded in the work environment may simply be too much for the worker to continue to bear. Sadly, this means the nation loses more quality nurses. Prevention has not been a focus for facilities, government oversight agencies, or individuals. Occupational injury is accepted as a given for those going into the profession, and there isn't a proactive approach toward prevention or addressing these disorders when they occur.5 This does not need to be the case. There are both preventive and maintenance strategies that workers can take to reduce the risk of injury. Massage therapy can play an important role in the prevention and rehabilitation of the types of injuries experienced by those in the nursing profession. 106 massage & bodywork september/october 2012

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