Several publications reported high prevalence of musculoskeletal issues among medical sonographers. Only a few intervention efforts have focused on solving the problem from an engineering control point of view. Echocardiography is a specialty field of ultrasound of the cardiovascular system, and is currently a growing field due to the trends of longer life expectancy and rising obesity levels. Further investigations of cardiac sonographers identified recurring issues such as prolonged probe pinching, forceful exertion, awkward posture and maintaining static posture. This study aims to design an engineering intervention that can potentially reduce these exposure risks. The design process includes observation, interview, literature review, product conceptualization, evaluation and focus group sessions. Cardiac sonographers, engineers, ergonomists, a radiologic sciences professional, and manufacturing technicians were involved in various stages of the design development process. A design of an articulating arm that uses a simple locking mechanism was envisioned to reduce prolonged probe pinching, force exertion, awkward postures, and static postures. A functional prototype was assembled, and pilot tested among cardiac sonographers in a clinic setting. The session revealed the concept's potential in addressing previously identified issues. However, several design iterations and more comprehensive evaluations will be needed before the device will be ready for implementation in echocardiography settings.
Ergonomics; Medical-personnel; Medical-services; Workers; Work-environment; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Injuries; Radiography; Equipment-design; Engineering-controls; Biomechanics; Posture; Force; Humans; Men; Women; Cardiovascular-system; Ultrasound; Health-care-personnel; Medical-personnel