Become an Ergonomic Health Educator for Your Colleagues

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ErgoPractice News – December 2018

Duke Surgery Department’s Ergonomics Program

In 2017 General Surgery Department at Duke started an educational program where chief residents teach junior residents about the proper working posture. This program was created to counter the surprising issues discovered and identified through research at the program.1 This peer-based ergonomics training can foster collaborative learning.

Reported by Dr. Shanna Sprinkle, “When we surveyed some of our medical students, 78% of them rated their posture during surgical tasks as poor or very poor. … What’s alarming though is that more than half of them say they regularly experience musculoskeletal pain while performing surgical skills.”

It was identified that a significant cause of the neck issues reported was due to neck tilt. See photos below for examples of neck tilt. They state “maintaining neck flexion at less than or equal to 25 degrees can prevent spine and neck strain.” A core part of the program is that each resident is fitted with loupes that sit at a proper declination angle to minimize neck tilt. This conclusion is supported by long-standing research in Dental2 and Industrial3 fields as well.

Sharing the Knowledge

You might have already had chronic neck pain or injury from using traditionally designed, non-ergonomic loupes and have experienced relief by using SurgiTel ergonomically fitted loupes instead. Many of our clients have had this experience.4-10 Or you may have always used SurgiTel’s ergonomically fitted loupes and never experienced serious neck pain.

With reports of musculoskeletal pain as prevalent as in the research above, you likely know clinicians who are experiencing working pain. They may be getting continual chiropractic treatments, physical therapy treatments or even be taking painkillers regularly to treat the symptoms of their neck problem. They may not know the negative impact of non-ergonomic loupes on their long-term health and career.

Many clinicians believe they are using ergonomic loupes because all manufacturers are calling their loupes “ergonomic loupes.”11 Because there is no regulation of ergonomic requirements of loupes, these unsubstantiated claims go unchallenged.

Because of the prevalence of working pain, sharing knowledge can have a great positive impact on your colleagues’ health and careers, simply by letting them know there is a solution. So many clinicians believe that working pain is just part of their job. Just as in the Duke program above, clinicians can have a hugely positive impact on their colleagues through sharing information.

Becoming an Ergonomic Educator

Even before the Duke program, large industrial organizations have had ergonomics/safety program managers who continue to improve their ergonomics programs for the safety of their employees, with the goal of increasing productivity. They perform “gap analysis” to show where they are versus where they want to be. Then they identify ergonomic tools to reduce the gaps and implement these through ergonomics/safety programs. These programs also regularly include several rounds of training for successful implementation. However, there are no dedicated ergonomics programs for clinicians.

The Duke peer-based program appears to be a unique collaborative learning concept that may be used by various clinics. You can promote that your clinical team members may watch the working posture of colleagues and point out how they may improve their working postures. By helping your colleagues recognize that their poor working posture may create work-related pain or injuries, you can easily be an ergonomic educator and help start talking about the importance of clinical ergonomics

How You Can Help

If you see your colleagues are working with poor postures or if you hear they are experiencing neck or shoulder pain:

Let them know if they continue to work with excessive head tilt (more than 25 degrees), they may cause injury to their spine. Head tilt can be easily estimated by comparing two photos, one with the neutral posture and another with the actual working posture (Figure 1).12

If you had neck pain before you switched to SurgiTel loupes, you can share your experience of traditional loupes versus SurgiTel’s ergonomically fitted loupes

You can let them know that SurgiTel’s technical team can evaluate their working postures (contact: ErgoNews@SurgiTel.com)

Or you may simply share this article with them and they may read and research for themselves

Please empower your colleagues to prevent years of needless pain and risk of career-ending injury by taking a moment to share with them. It should be noted that the development of chronic neck pain with the use of traditional, non-ergonomic loupes occurs over time. Pain and injury may appear to occur suddenly, but the damage has actually been building for a long time. Similarly, changing your ergonomic posture with ergonomic loupes, will not alleviate your pain overnight. It takes time to build better habits and heal musculoskeletal disorders.

For more information, you may contact SurgiTel’s local technical sales representative at www.SurgiTel.com/MyRep

References:
  1. Walker, Brooke. “Duke Surgery Introduces Ergonomics Program to Improve Surgeon Health.” Duke Surgery. July 14, 2017. Accessed December 27, 18. https://surgery.duke.edu/news/duke-surgery-introduces-ergonomics-program-improve-surgeon-health.
  2. Valachi, Bethany. Practice dentistry pain-free. Portland, Oregon: Posturedontics Press, 2008. www.posturedontics.com
  3. Pulat, BM, Fundamentals of Industrial Ergonomics, Chapter 7: 177. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc., 1992.
  4. Hongsuk, Sue. “How SurgiTel Alleviate My Neck Pain.” SurgiTel. July 2013. Accessed December 27, 2018. https://surgitel.com/testimonial-dr-hong-suk-sue-md/
  5. Singer, Raymond “SurgiTel Saved a Surgeon’s Career!” SurgiTel. June 2013. Accessed December 27, 2018.
  6. Blaes, Joe, DDS. “Pearls for Your Practice.” Dental Economics, May 2012.
  7. Darryl L Hatchett, DDS. “SurgiTel Delivered the Magnification I Wanted Without The Pain.” ErgoPractice News, June 2014. Accessed December 27, 2018. https://surgitel.com/testimonial-darryl-l-hatchett-dds/
  8. Chang, BJ., Raymond Singer “Utilizing Next-Generation Vision-Aid Products for the Ergonomic Practice of Surgery,” ErgoPractice News, August 2014. https://surgitel.com/testimonial-dr-raymond-singer/
  9. Lisa Mikol-Doering, DVM. “Using SurgiTel for Veterinary Dentistry After Using my Online Loupes.” ErgoPractice News, June 2016. Accessed December 27, 2018. https://surgitel.com/testimonial-lisa-mikol-doering-dvm/
  10. Amjad Ansari BDS MJDF1 RCS. “SurgiTel’s Ergonomic Loupes Freed me from Neck Pain.” SurgiTel. February 2015. Accessed December 27, 2018. https://surgitel.com/testimonial-amjad-ansari-bds/
  11. Chang, BJ. “Demystifying Declination Angle,” ErgoPractice News, July 2017. https://surgitel.com/demystifying-declination-angle/
  12. Chang, BJ. “Many Clinicians Needlessly Work with Neck Pain,” ErgoPractice News, November 2016. https://surgitel.com/many-clinicians-needlessly-work-with-neck-pain/