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Phys Ther. 2008 May;88(5):608-19. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20070127. Epub 2008 Feb 14.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in physical therapists: a prospective cohort study with 1-year follow-up.

Author information

1
Program in Physical Therapy, Mercy College, 555 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522, USA. mcampo@mercy.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) have a significant impact on physical therapists, but few studies have addressed the issue. Research is needed to determine the scope of the problem and the effects of specific risk factors.

OBJECTIVES:

The objectives of this study were: (1) to determine the 1-year incidence rate of WMSDs in physical therapists and (2) to determine the effects of specific risk factors.

DESIGN:

This was a prospective cohort study with 1-year follow-up.

METHODS:

Subjects were randomly selected American Physical Therapy Association members (N=882). Exposure assessment included demographic data, physical risk factors, job strain, and specific physical therapy tasks. The primary outcome was WMSDs, with a severity rating of at least 4/10 and present at least once a month or lasting longer than a week.

RESULTS:

The response rate to the baseline questionnaire was 67%. Ninety-three percent of the subjects who responded to the baseline questionnaire responded to the follow-up questionnaire. The 1-year incidence rate of WMSDs was 20.7%. Factors that increased the risk for WMSDs included patient transfers, patient repositioning, bent or twisted postures, joint mobilization, soft tissue work, and job strain.

LIMITATIONS:

The primary limitation of this study was the number of therapists who had a change in their job situation during the follow-up year.

CONCLUSIONS:

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are prevalent in physical therapists. Physical therapy exposures, patient handling, and manual therapy, in particular, increase the risk for WMSDs.

PMID:
18276935
PMCID:
PMC2390722
DOI:
10.2522/ptj.20070127
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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