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Designing ergonomic interventions for emergency medical services workers - part III: bed to stairchair transfers.

Lavender SA; Conrad KM; Reichelt PA; Kohok AK; Gacki-Smith J
Appl Ergon 2007 Sep; 38(5):581-589
The objective of the current work was to test interventions aimed at reducing the low-back musculoskeletal loads experienced by firefighters/paramedics (FFPs) providing emergency medical services (EMS) that involve transferring a patient between a bed and a stairchair. The interventions, developed or selected using focus groups, were a prototype Drew People Mover™, and a Transfer Sling. These interventions changed the coupling between the EMS worker and the patient. They were compared with an under-axilla lift. Eleven FFP teams transferred a 75 kg dummy between a bed and a stairchair. Both interventions were tested using two-person transfers. In addition, the Transfer Sling was tested using a one-person transfer. Surface electromyographic (EMG) data were collected from 8 trunk muscles from each participant along with spine kinematic data. Additionally, ground reaction force data obtained from two forceplates were acquired for one member of each FFP team that was used to estimate directional spine moments using a 3D linked-segment model. In the two-person transfers, there was 19 degrees less trunk flexion (p=0.002) for the FFP on the patient's left side and a trend towards less motion for the FFP on the patient's right side (p=0.079) when using the interventions. Both FFPs showed reductions in the ipsilateral Erector Spinae activity using the Drew People Mover and the Transfer Sling that averaged approximately 9% MVC, which corresponds to a 21% decrease in the muscle activation levels. While the overall EMG was greater when performing a single-FFP transfer, the Transfer Sling reduced the bilateral Erector Spinae activity by approximately 20%. During the two-person transfers, the FFP on the forceplate to the right side of the patient showed a reduction in the forward bending moment using the Drew People Mover relative to the Sling and under-axilla conditions. During the single-person transfers, only the twisting moment was significantly reduced through use of the Transfer Sling. These objective measures, when combined with the subjective ratings of perceived exertion and the verbal feedback lead us to recommend the use of these interventions for bed to stairchair transfers.
Muscle-function; Muscle-physiology; Muscle-stress; Muscle-tension; Posture; Fire-fighters; Rescue-workers; Rescue-measures; Medical-rescue-services; Body-mechanics; Emergency-responders; Musculoskeletal-system; Biomechanical-engineering; Biomechanics; Ergonomics; Back-injuries; Author Keywords: Low-back disorders; Emergency medical services; Intervention; Firefighter; Back pain
Steven A. Lavender, Departments of Industrial Welding and Systems Engineering and Orthopaedics, The Ohio State University, 1971 Neil Avenue, Rm. 210, Columbus, OH 43210
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
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Fiscal Year
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Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Low Back Disorders
Source Name
Applied Ergonomics
Performing Organization
University of Illinois at Chicago
Page last reviewed: August 12, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division