Ergonomics Intervention: Personal Weight Transfer Device Improves Back Pain

Photo: A study participant demonstrates the personal weight transfer device.
Photo 1:2
A study participant demonstrates the
personal weight transfer device.
Photo: A study particpant demonstrates the personal weight transfer device.
Photo 2:2

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Researchers from the Occupational Biomechanics Laboratory at UC Davis suggest wearing a weight transfer device while working in a stooped posture may reduce the risk of developing lower back disorders, a widespread problem in occupations such as agriculture and construction.

The study by lead investigator Fadi Fathallah, director of the University of California at Davis’ Agricultural Ergonomics Research Center, involved 18 people between the ages of 18 and 50. Physical loads that a worker might encounter in a typical workday were imposed with and without the weight transfer device. Laboratory participants wore an apparatus to constrain movement of the pelvis so that motions remained restricted to the spine.

Posture, compression, and force to the spine at the L5-S1 level can be reduced by up to thirteen percent with the weight transfer device, the authors predict. Internal loads to the leg joints may be reduced from ten percent to thirty-one percent.

The authors recommend further study to assess whether wearing the device has any long-term effects, but it may prove to be an effective intervention for workers who perform repetitive tasks while in a stooped position and others with existing symptoms of lower back pain.

Results of the research appeared in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. The study received funding from the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety and the Henry A. Jastro and Peter J. Shields Graduate Research Scholarship at UC Davis.

Read the study.

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