Prevalence, Risk Factors and Preventive Strategies in Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders among Israeli Physical Therapists

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Background and Purpose.Although physical therapists (PTs) have extensive knowledge of body mechanisms and injury prevention, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMD) are quite common in this population. The purposes of this study were: to determine the prevalence and impact of WRMD among Israeli PTs; to investigate WRMD risk factors and to identify preventive strategies used by PTs; and to compare the risk of injuries in two professional settings: rehabilitation centres (RCs) and outpatient clinics (OPCs).Method.A validated, modified Cromie questionnaire, translated into Hebrew, was distributed to the PTs at their workplaces. The relationship between WRMD symptoms and professional settings was analysed by Pearson chi-square. The risk models were developed by logistic regression. One hundred and twelve PTs working in OPCs and RCs who defined themselves as healthy individuals were the subjects of this study.Results.Lifetime prevalence of WRMD was 83%. The highest prevalence of WRMD was in the lower back area (80%). Rehabilitation treatment was associated with an increased risk of lower back (odds ratio [OR] = 1.05) and shoulder symptoms (OR = 1.04); manual treatment was associated with an increased risk of wrist/thumb symptoms (OR = 1.11).Discussion.Work in RCs was associated with an increased prevalence of lower back/shoulder symptoms, whereas work in OPCs was associated with an increased prevalence of thumb/wrist symptoms. PT's used different strategies to reduce risk of WRMD, including altering practice technique. The respondents recommended administrative and ergonomic changes in the workplace.Conclusion.Workplace-specific interventions to reduce WRMD in PTs should be developed and tested in future studies.

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