• Journal Article

Cause, prevalence, and response to occupational musculoskeletal injuries reported by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants

Citation

Holder, N. L., Clark, H. A., DiBlasio, J. M., Hughes, C., Scherpf, J. W., Harding, L., & Shepard, K. F. (1999). Cause, prevalence, and response to occupational musculoskeletal injuries reported by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. Physical Therapy, 79(7), 642-652.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are susceptible to occupational musculoskeletal injuries. The purpose of this study was to examine the reported causes and prevalence of occupational musculoskeletal injuries to PTs and PTAs during a 2-year period. SUBJECTS: A questionnaire was mailed to 500 PTs and 500 PTAs randomly selected from the American Physical Therapy Association 1996 active membership list. Six hundred sixty-seven questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 67%. METHOD: Based on a literature review and a pilot study, an occupational injury questionnaire was constructed and mailed. Self-reports of injuries were obtained. RESULTS: Thirty-two percent of the PTs and 35% of the PTAs reported sustaining a musculoskeletal injury. The highest prevalence of injury was to the low back (62% of injured PTs and 56% of injured PTAs). The PTs reported the upper back and the wrist and hand as having the second highest prevalence (23%). The PTAs reported the upper back as having the second highest prevalence (28%). The PTs and PTAs reported making changes in their work habits of improved body mechanics, increased use of other personnel, and frequent change of work position. The majority of PTs and PTAs reported they did not limit patient contact time or area of practice after sustaining an injury. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION: Although PTs and PTAs are recognized to be knowledgeable in prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, they are susceptible to sustaining occupational musculoskeletal injuries because of performing labor-intensive tasks