Paramedics on the job: Dynamic trunk motion assessment at the workplace

Many paramedics’ work accidents are related to physical aspects of the job, and the most affected body part is the low back.  The authors of this study document the trunk motion exposure of paramedics on the job. Nine paramedics were observed over 12 shifts (120 h).  Trunk postures were recorded with the computer-assisted CUELA measurement system worn on the back like a knapsack. Average duration of an emergency call was 23.5 min.  Sagittal trunk flexion of >40° and twisting rotation of >24° were observed in 21% and 17% of time-sampled postures. Medical care on the scene (44% of total time) involved prolonged flexed and twisted postures (∼10 s). The highest extreme sagittal trunk flexion (63°) and twisting rotation (40°) were observed during lifting activities, which lasted 2% of the total time.

Paramedics adopted trunk motions that may significantly increase the risk of low back disorders during medical care and patient-handling activities. This study demonstrates how trunk motion in the workplace might be assessed.