WORK-RE­LATED IN­JURIES

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Mar­garita Gure­vich & Justin Bal­bir De­sign Olek­san­dra Zuieva

In­juries are not re­served for high-level ath­letes and those par­tic­i­pat­ing in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. In­juries can oc­cur in any cir­cum­stance and cer­tain oc­cu­pa­tions cor­re­late with par­tic­u­lar types of in­juries.

THE STATS.

From the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, be­tween July 2013 and June 2014, over 531,000 peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enced work-re­lated in­juries. Sta­tis­ti­cally, males ex­pe­ri­ence more in­juries than fe­males,

mak­ing up 61% of the to­tal. Peo­ple who were clas­si­fied as ma­chine op­er­a­tors, trades work­ers and labour­ers ex­pe­ri­enced the high­est in­jury rates. The most com­mon types of in­juries were sprain/strain (33%) and chronic joint or mus­cle con­di­tions (21%).

A hefty 34% of in­juries oc­curred through lift­ing, push­ing, pulling and bend­ing, while 9% oc­curred from repet­i­tive move­ments.

What th­ese par­tic­u­lar in­jury types and mech­a­nisms have in com­mon, is that they can all be mod­i­fied and ma­nip­u­lated by ap­pro­pri­ate phys­io­ther­apy in­ter­ven­tion.

LIFT­ING, PUSH­ING, PULLING AND BEND­ING.

The im­pli­ca­tions of poor lift­ing and car­ry­ing tech­niques have been well doc­u­mented. Most work­places that re­quire such tasks, will usu­ally ed­u­cate em­ploy­ees on safe ways to per­form them. If you feel like you are de­vel­op­ing prob­lems due to th­ese phys­i­cal jobs, it is im­por­tant to speak to your em­ployer and see if any mod­i­fi­ca­tions can be made.

Phys­io­ther­a­pists can of­fer as­sis­tance for th­ese prob­lems in sev­eral ways. A thor­ough as­sess­ment can de­ter­mine whether the best tech­niques are be­ing used and po­ten­tially come up with new tech­niques to avoid fur­ther in­jury. Ad­di­tion­ally, phys­io­ther­a­pists can pro­vide you with spe­cific ex­er­cises to counter the ef­fects of bend­ing and lift­ing, while also strength­en­ing the core mus­cles and other im­por­tant mus­cles of the body to re­duce the like­li­hood of in­jury oc­cur­ring.

REPET­I­TIVE MOVE­MENTS.

Th­ese are tasks that are not nec­es­sar­ily stren­u­ous in na­ture, but when per­formed con­tin­u­ously for a long pe­riod of time, can take a toll on the body. Once again, work­places will nor­mally have sys­tems in place to re­duce the chance of such in­juries oc­cur­ring. Tak­ing reg­u­lar breaks from the task be­ing per­formed, or switch­ing to a dif­fer­ent task, are two ways in which th­ese risks can be min­imised. Once again, a phys­io­ther­a­pist can as­sist through as­sess­ment of tech­nique and pos­ture. Al­ter­na­tive meth­ods can be de­vised and ex­er­cises can be help­ful to stretch and strengthen af­fected ar­eas.

THE SILENT KILLER.

It is very com­mon knowl­edge that pro­longed sit­ting has be­come a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to­wards poor health amongst Aus­tralians. While this does not specif­i­cally lead to tra­di­tional ‘work­place in­juries’ it can have heavy health im­pli­ca­tions.

Firstly, sit­ting all day does not do any favours to our mus­cles and joints. Stiff­ness and re­duced joint mo­bil­ity can oc­cur, as well as de­vel­op­ment of poor pos­ture and pathol­ogy of the spine, any­where from the lower back to the neck. Small changes, such as set­ting re­minders to get up and walk or stretch can be help­ful. Your phys­io­ther­a­pist can pro­vide er­gonomic ad­vice, as well as giv­ing you tips and spe­cific ex­er­cises to com­bat the ef­fects of sit­ting.

In a few words, a good work setup in­volves the fol­low­ing points:

• mak­ing sure that the chair be­ing used has a good lum­bar sup­port; al­ter­na­tively, a lum­bar roll can be used

PRO­LONGED SIT­TING CON­TRIB­UTES TO­WARDS POOR HEALTH AMONGST AUS­TRALIANS.

• push­ing the chair right in and mak­ing sure that only the el­bows are hang­ing off the desk

• al­ways us­ing a por­ta­ble mouse if work­ing on a lap­top

• mak­ing sure that there is a 90-de­gree bend at the hips, knees and an­kles.

Ad­di­tion­ally, be­ing seden­tary for long pe­ri­ods has neg­a­tive con­se­quences for our gen­eral health, do­ing no favours for our car­dio­vas­cu­lar and res­pi­ra­tory sys­tems. Adding some forms of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity to your day, such as rid­ing or walking to work, tak­ing the stairs in­stead of the lift, us­ing your lunch break for some phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity or im­ple­ment­ing a stand­ing desk, can all be use­ful.

SUM­MARY.

Ul­ti­mately, all tasks carry some level of risk, but with the right struc­tures in place, we can min­imise the like­li­hood of in­juries oc­cur­ring. Phys­io­ther­a­pists are an ex­cel­lent start­ing point if you re­quire any ad­vice, treat­ment or pre­ven­ta­tive strate­gies. It is of­ten pos­si­ble to ar­range with a phys­io­ther­a­pist to visit your work­place to con­duct a work­place as­sess­ment, give er­gonomic ad­vice, con­duct ed­u­ca­tional sem­i­nars on man­ual han­dling and other tasks as rel­e­vant to each work­place.

Our jobs are im­por­tant for our liveli­hood and there­fore we should make sure we can per­form them in the safest and most com­fort­able ways pos­si­ble.

Mar­garita Gure­vich is Se­nior Phys­io­ther­a­pist and uses Clin­i­cal Pi­lates, SCENAR Ther­apy & other ev­i­dence-based tech­niques, in­clud­ing Real Time Ul­tra­sound and McKen­zie Treat­ment. Mar­garita spe­cialises in sports in­juries, women’s health (in­clud­ing in­con­ti­nence) and gas­troin­testi­nal is­sues. Mar­garita may be con­tacted via her web­site.

Justin Bal­bir has a Bach­e­lor of Health Sciences & Mas­ters of Phys­io­ther­apy Prac­tice. He has worked for five years as a sports trainer for the Ajax Foot­ball Club, with ex­pe­ri­ence in soft­tis­sue mas­sage & in­jury man­age­ment. Jus­tine spe­cial­izes in man­ual ther­apy & sports in­juries and may be con­tacted via web­site.

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