Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2017

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48 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 7 education SOMATIC RESEARCH Work-Related Musculoskeletal Exposures and Injuries By Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, PhD as repetitive motions, high-force manual techniques for treating patients, techniques that exert direct pressure on certain joints during the treatment, awkward positioning of joints during certain maneuvers, and prolonged constrained postures. RESEARCH ON PHYSICAL THERAPISTS A recent article reviewed several research studies that assessed the work-related musculoskeletal disorders among physical therapists. 1 Thirteen previously published articles were found that defined the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders along with risk factors. A surprising 55–91 percent of physical therapists develop a work-related musculoskeletal disorder in their lifetime, and 40–91.3 percent develop a disorder within 12 months. Low-back pain is the most common location for work-related pain in physical therapists, most often followed by the neck, upper back, and shoulder. In this review, several risk factors for low-back pain in physical therapists were identified, including high physical load on the body, an age of less than 30 years old, practice experience of five years or less, and female gender. The only modifiable factor in this list is the high physical load. Therefore, prevention strategies that decrease the amount of exertion may be beneficial, such as height-adjustable beds or tables and stools with wheels. Other self-care suggestions to reduce the risk of injury included regular breaks According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more workers are injured in the health-care and social assistance industry sector than any other division of labor, including the industrial manufacturing sector. These data do not specifically include data on massage therapists, nor are there any scientific articles assessing the overall work-related repetitive strain injuries in the massage profession. These injury data are needed; otherwise, our profession cannot develop appropriate prevention programs. The physical therapy profession is related to massage therapy and has been studied extensively regarding workplace injury. Some of the work that physical therapists do is similar to that of massage therapists, and therefore we can presume the effects of this work are also similar on massage therapists. Both professions can include physically demanding tasks, such

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