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, 38 (6), 552-7

Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Physical Therapists: An Online Survey

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Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Physical Therapists: An Online Survey

Edgar R Vieira et al. Disabil Rehabil.

Abstract

Purpose: To evaluate the rates and characteristics of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in physical therapists (PTs) according to their specialty and setting.

Method: Participants completed an online questionnaire including 15 demographic questions, 7 work-related and 8 injury-related questions for 9 different body parts.

Results: Complete responses were obtained from 121 PTs; 96% reported MSD symptoms during the previous 12 months, 64% affecting at least 3 body parts. The body parts with the highest prevalence of symptoms were the low back (66%) and the neck (61%). For PTs specialized in acute care, geriatrics and pediatrics, the body part most commonly affected was the low back, while for PTs specialized in orthopedics and neurology, the body part most commonly affected was the neck. Regarding work settings, the low back was the most commonly affected for PTs working in skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics and hospitals, and the neck in PTs working in academic and home health settings.

Conclusions: MSDs are common among PTs; the body parts most often affected were the low back and neck. The prevalence and body parts affected varied by practice setting and specialty area. The findings can help informing the design of evidence-based rehabilitation, prevention, training and educational programs.

Implications for rehabilitation: Rehabilitation of injured physical therapists needs to address the symptoms of the multiple body parts that are usually affected (e.g. back, wrists and hands). Rehabilitation of injured physical therapists needs to take into consideration their job demands, practice setting and specialty area. The findings can inform the design of rehabilitation, prevention, training and educational programs for physical therapists.

Keywords: Musculoskeletal disorders; occupational injury; pain; physical therapists; prevention; survey.

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