Reduction of farmers' postural load during occupationally oriented medical rehabilitation

Appl Ergon. 1995 Dec;26(6):411-5. doi: 10.1016/0003-6870(95)00027-5.

Abstract

Farmers' back problems may be associated with the amount of back flexion and the handling of heavy loads. The aim of this study was to analyse the effects of occupationally oriented medical rehabilitation courses on female farmers' postural load. Twenty seven female farmers (aged from 32 to 52 years) took part in four rehabilitation courses at one rehabilitation centre in Finland. The subjects suffered from various musculoskeletal symptoms, which decreased their work ability. The rehabilitation courses included two periods: the first lasted for 3 weeks and the latter for 1 week, organized 6 months after the first period. The work postures and their load on the musculoskeletal system were classified by the computerized OWAS method in three daily work phases. During the 3-week periods new work techniques were learned, and simultaneous bent and twisted postures for the back decreased from 34 to 4% of all studied work postures. Similarly, postures with one or both arms above shoulder level were reduced from 44 to 24%. Rechecking after the 6-month period confirmed that the adoption of new work techniques was consistent. The study showed that female farmers could change their work techniques during this kind of intensive rehabilitation period, and the changes were seen 6 months later in the follow-up.