Measuring Your Working Pain Risk Using Biometric Data

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ErgoPractice News – July 2019

As personal health has become more important and urgent in people’s lives, companies have created biometric devices that allow us to receive real-time feedback on how well we are doing. Fitbit, for example, has become a household name very quickly.

One of the greatest challenges for clinicians has been determining if their posture is out of balance and will contribute to working pain and musculoskeletal injury. All loupe companies tell their customer the product is ergonomic. And while we have demonstrated again and again in this newsletter, through studies and testimonials, that only SurgiTel loupes provide the ergonomics that clinicians need – biometrics may provide the proof.

Measuring Neck Tilt in Real-Time

As we know, clinicians often experience working pain, primarily in the neck and back. Research suggests a safe head tilt range is 0-25 degrees,1 because as you hold your head at this angle, musculoskeletal damage will start to incur.

We hear countless stories on a regular basis from clinicians across the board who seem to think that working pain is something they must accept because it’s “just a part of the job.” They are convinced because they have watched their mentors struggle and accept their own working pain2. Marketing a product as “ergonomic” has become more popular lately. The word “ergonomic” has saturated the market and is thrown around without any evidence that the product is indeed truly “ergonomic”. Since the importance of ergonomics isn’t often covered in school, clinicians may often attribute their pain to an old injury or fracture they may have had in the past. Leaving their pain to continue and even worsen over time3.

Recently, we heard about the Upright Go® (Figure 1), a biometric device that you place on your upper back. It reminds you to stand or sit up straight in real-time by vibrating when you’re out of balance. A record of the data is tracked on your phone through an app. Upright Go® states that 8 out of 10 Upright users report a posture improvement of 92% in less than 2 weeks.

After using the Upright Go® for one week we found that it works very well. The Upright Go® reads data quickly and seems very accurate. The marketed use of the device is to measure upper back posture and alerts you when you’re no longer in an ergonomically safe position. It does this by taking a reading of your neutral posture, then allowing the user to set a tolerance level, which the app calls “Motion Range.” When you are beyond your maximum “Motion Range” for a set number of seconds, it will vibrate to signal you. We at SurgiTel hypothesized that if placed on the upper neck, this device could measure neck tilt in the same way.

We tested the device placed on the upper neck and determined it was indeed able to measure neck tilt angles as well.

We placed the Upright Go® just below the hairline and started recording. We measured each of the “Motion Range” settings to determine what angles they represent. Using the confirmed 20-25 degrees forward as the point of danger, we created the following guide (Figure 2) for neck tilt.

Options for Measuring YOUR Neck Tilt

What you can do: place the device as shown in Figure 2 and set the max Motion Range on the app to 5. Start wearing your loupes and see if it is constantly buzzing at you. This is a direct, measurable indicator that provides a confirmation on the data suggestion that most loupes are not ergonomic.

The other way to get that measurement is by a photograph. You can either email us a side picture of your neutral posture and your working posture and we can let you know which of the 6 ‘ratings’ above you are working at. Or you may have a rep visit you and they can let you know right away!

Conclusion

To find out if you’re working ergonomically and healthily with your loupes, have someone in your practice get a picture of you working when you aren’t aware and send your pictures to ErgoNews@SurgiTel.com. We can measure your head tilt angle and review your working posture to let you know if you’re working safely.

 


References:
  1. Valachi, Bethany. Practice Dentistry Pain-Free. Portland, Oregon: Posturedontics Press, 2008. www.posturedontics.com
  2. Chang, BJ. “The First Step Toward a Pain-Free Practice” ErgoPractice News, April 2019. https://surgitel.com/the-first-step-toward-a-pain-free-practice/
  3. Chang, BJ. “Don’t Just Treat Your Symptoms, Eliminate the Cause of Your Working Pain” ErgoPractice News, December 2017. https://surgitel.com/dont-just-treat-your-symptoms-eliminate-the-cause-of-your-working-pain/