How SurgiTel Custom FLM Loupes Can Prevent Career-Ending Injury
Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, MA, FADIA
Linda is a 2012 Sunstar RDH Award of Distinction recipient.
Linda Meeuwenberg is the President and CEO of the Professional Development Association, Inc. assisting participants to improved performance. She is an internationally recognized educator and best-selling author. As a Professor from Ferris State University, she was honored with induction into Sigma Phi Alpha for her outstanding contribution to education, and earned a First Place Award from the American Association of Dental Schools for her innovative teaching techniques.
As an active volunteer, she is a recipient of the Hygiene Hero Award by ADHA and Johnson and Johnson. Linda serves on the Board of the Space Coast Volunteers in Medicine and the Brevard County Dental Hygiene Association. She is a contributing author to Stepping Stones to Success, the best selling Overcoming Mediocrity, and currently co-authoring an interactive iPad book: 3D Dentists-The Future of Dentistry is Now. She serves on the Editorial Review Board for the ADHA publication – Access where she writes a column titled Transitions. She has been a contributing author to many publications including RDH Magazine and serves as a Key Opinion Leader for many dental companies.
During the summer of 1984 my life significantly changed as I awoke to severe neck pain and a lack of mobility. As the day went on, the pain subsided and I could move my neck slightly more. I had often joked about my “bad neck” is just part of working in dentistry, but this was beyond the usual discomfort. The next day I went to work at a dental office and as the day progressed I experienced pain worse than childbirth!
During the school year, I taught dental hygiene at one of the largest dental hygiene programs in the United States – Ferris State University. Due to injuries sustained during that summer, however, I was not able to return to teaching that year.
I was in traction, in the hospital, on IV sedation and receiving ultrasound treatments to relieve the severe muscle spasms. I was soon transported to a larger hospital for a Myelogram. I was diagnosed with a severely ruptured disc between C 6 and 7 and was prescribed immediate surgery to remove the bone fragments that were causing pressure on my spinal cord leaving me with severe pain, numbness in my arm/hand, and muscle spasms. I missed the entire fall semester.
I was fortunate to have excellent health insurance, paid sick leave, and a long term disability policy from my employer. Unfortunately, most practicing hygienists do not have such benefits. My journey to recovery included not only this surgery but several weeks of physical therapy, follow up appointments, and more.
When I returned to work I had a whole new perspective as I perused the medical library in the hospital. I wanted to determine why this happened to me and how I might help my students and other dental professionals prevent such injury. At that time one did not see articles published on Ergonomics and there was no such thing as “Googling it.” Now you can hardly pick up a journal without seeing something about Ergonomics and an internet search is only a few clicks away.
I explored my own path as I made several changes to my life including relaxation techniques and physical therapy targeting the specific muscle groups. I incorporated SurgiTel Front-Lens-Mounted (FLM) loupes and was on a search for ergonomic seating. My journey led me to present a course on “Preserving Your Back Health” for the Michigan Dental Hygiene state meeting in the spring of 1985. I was on a mission.
I wrote several articles, hosted several courses, and presented to many groups. I eventually met Dr. Chang from SurgiTel. He showed me more about how the declination angle of my SurgiTel loupes are so it enables the clinician to customize their declination angle to their best posture. This allows the clinician to sit in an upright and comfortable position. They are able to work comfortably, effectively, and safely.
In 2008 I had my second surgery to correct the stenosis in C 3, 4, and 5. Now, when I try on any other brand loupe, I cannot even see through them as the declination angle is not steep enough. I can no longer bend my neck far enough forward to see through the shallow angle of those other loupes.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of wearing properly designed, ergonomic loupes for your ergonomic health, NOT only to see better. Invest in a customizable FLM loupe that allows for the correct neutral position. I see many clinicians try to buy cheaper brands which often exacerbates their neck pain. The budget alternative is no alternative!
I have many clinicians contacting me about their neck pain and asking for advice. Get fitted for ergonomic loupes and give them a test drive. DO NOT purchase a set on eBay! They must be measured for your body. I tell my audiences that the bed you sleep in and the chair you sit in at work should be your two most important investments for your health, AFTER you have invested in a properly fitted loupe.
I have seen many clinicians improve the longevity of their health and their practice when making these ergonomic investments. Ask yourself: can you afford to reduce your workload, lose weeks of work due to surgery and/or change careers? Why not make the investment for your practice longevity? You will feel better, have more energy, and prevent injury. Aren’t you worth it?