ErgoPractice News – December 2013
During the 2013 American Dental Association meeting in New Orleans, I attended several lectures on Health and Fitness. They included the Prevention of Work-Related Pain and Injuries, Treating Neck and Back Pain, and Specific Exercise Needs. When the speakers asked their attendees who experience pain daily, almost 100 % of the audience raised their hands. These ergonomic lectures were very helpful for clinicians to understand the causes of their work-related pain and injury. Even more importantly they received advice on many ways to prevent, alleviate, or eliminate pain.
Tim Caruso, PT, MBA, MS, MDT, CEAS (Founder of Chicagoland Performance Consultants and Ergonomic Expert) led the morning session. He pointed out how posture positively and negatively impacts the bottom line. Mr. Caruso reviewed the science of ergonomics and where it impacts the practice of dentistry. According to Mr. Caruso, a recent ADA survey found nearly three out of five clinicians (57.1%) reported they regularly feel pain in some area of their body. The top areas of discomfort were back and neck pain followed by shoulder pain. This is supported by several other sources in the literature. Mr. Caruso recommended that, first, we should learn and maintain effective and safe working postures. These postures can be enhanced and supported by proper magnification and seating. Next professionals need to work on strengthening areas of weakness with specific postural exercises. If pain cannot be eliminated by these methods, it is time to consult with a professional trained in the conservative care of the spine. Namely, Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy (MDT), also known as the McKenzie approach.
Timothy J. Caruso is a practicing Physical Therapist who is nationally known as a professional speaker who has worked extensively with dental profession since 1988 in the areas of ergonomics, injury prevention, productivity, exercise and wellness.
Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS (President and Founder of Posturedontics LLC, and Dental Ergonomic Expert) led the afternoon session. She pointed out how chronic neck and back pain can be prevented by maintaining ergonomic working postures. She reviewed how the tools clinicians use every day (loupes, lights, stools) can make or break an ergonomic posture. Discussed were several key factors that separate a truly ergonomic tool from an inferior one. According to Ms. Valachi, dental professionals are prone to unique muscle imbalances and greatly benefit from special exercises. These exercises are designed to help prevent pain syndromes, injury, and early retirement. She reported how female dental professionals experience a higher prevalence and severity of occupational pain than male clinicians. The most problematic areas reported were the neck (about 78%) and shoulder (about 76%) followed by hand and wrist pain.
Bethany is a physical therapist and Clinical Instructor of Ergonomics at OHSU School of Dentistry. She lectures internationally and is author of the book “Practice Dentistry Pain-free.”
Both Mr. Caruso and Ms. Valachi stressed how work-related pain and injuries can be prevented only if proper equipment (loupes, headlight, stools, and patient chairs) are selected and used correctly. However, dental and hygiene students may not have clear guidelines to select the best equipment and to develop good working habits. It is well known that improperly designed or adjusted loupes may actually promote bad working posture, soon leading to pain and injury. In many cases, clinicians’ pain can be quickly eliminated by employing an ergonomically correct working posture facilitated by properly designed equipment. It should be noted that improperly designed headlights will distort the color of objects and may risk the blue light hazard.
SurgiTel delivers a total ergonomic solution to dental and surgical professionals through ergonomic loupes, headlights, and stools. Used correctly they can help prevent chronic neck and back pain. Our latest ergonomic innovations include a special setup for through-the-lens (TTL) loupes which can achieve nearly any declination angle. A truly custom declination angle can deliver unprecedented working comfort to a clinician. The process we recommend is to begin using customizable front-lens-mounted (FLM) loupes to find your optimum declination angle (delivering the most comfortable posture). Then, you can transfer this angle to customized TTL loupes. You may even upgrade your magnification at this time. Your starter FLM loupes can be used for training, as a spare or as a starter pair for a trainee.
For advice on the best ergonomics for your practice, contact your local SurgiTel representative. Start investing in your health by building a total ergonomic solution for your workplace. 1-800-959-0153 or www.surgitel.com/myrep
B. J. Chang PhD is President and Chief Scientist of General Scientific Corporation, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
From the late 1970s to late 1980s Dr. Chang lead the development of advanced head-up display systems for fighter jets such as F15E, A10 and F4. Over the last twenty years he has been extending the ergonomic principles used for military display system designs to clinical vision systems. This has lead to SurgiTel’s family of ergonomic loupes and illumination systems which prevent chronic neck and back pain.
Numerous patents (awarded and pending) have been applied to the design of SurgiTel’s loupes and illumination systems.
Jin Chang PhD
Ann Arbor MI