by Krystal Brewington, Assistant Professor @SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University;
In a study conducted by Evan George, practicing pathologists were identified to be at high risk for the development of MSDs of the neck, upper back, lower back, shoulders, and upper extremities related to cumulative trauma. Due to the working environment and posture, such as long working hours with a microscope and computer in a rigid sitting position most of these disorders result from awkward posture during work. Poor ergonomics along with not using standard equipment at workplaces predispose the pathologists to musculoskeletal problems.
Lack of awareness and assessment of these issues at the workplace, and this puts the pathologists in a higher risk of developing occupational problems. “As a certified hand therapist and upper extremity specialist it is my goal to educated and limit injury in any way possible” says Dr. Brewington. Doing an assessment of one’s work requirements and environment allows me to provide simple suggestions for ways to adjust your station to reduce/prevent injury. “As human beings we operate in flexion, typically in high stress environments with leads to a lot of stress, strain and compensation within our bodies specifically the neck and shoulders”. “The positions we hold for hours puts our nerves in awkward compressive positions increasing the risk of entrapment”.
Educating employers and employees on work station adjustments such as high -low tables and adjustable chairs for individual heights, weights and sizes is a start. “Simple adjustments to microscope locations or elevating them on a stack of books can make a huge difference in cervical neck pain”. The presentation was followed by an interactive stretch session where Dr. Brewington demonstrated simple nerve flossing techniques and extension stretches of the upper extremity to reduce pain and strain. The residents interacted and many were surprised to find that they had limitations in their ROM due to tensile strain.
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