The evaluation of stress to the spinal column in the provision of care has mostly concentrated on the handling of loads. However, awkward body postures alone, without load transfer, can also be stressful for the spinal column. Therefore in this study all the body postures and movements of nurses were quantitatively measured within a working shift.
The body postures were recorded with the CUELA measurement system (computer-assisted recording and long-term analysis of musculoskeletal loads), coupled to the individual, and this detected all movements of the trunk and the legs. These measurements were supported by video recordings, so that exact allocation of the measured data to the tasks performed was possible. In all, 24 shift measurements were carried out in 8 wards. Extent, frequency and duration of trunk postures were measured in three planes and assessed on the basis of several standards (DIN EN 1005-1, DIN EN 1005-4, ISO 11226).
A mean of 1131 (+/-377) trunk inclinations of >20 degrees were performed in each shift. This corresponds to a frequency of 3.5 min(-1). A total of 237 of these inclinations lasted for >4 s. A total of 72 (+/-35) min was spent bending forward with an inclination of >20 degrees . However, the mean time spent in transferring patients (counting only the lifting process) and heavy materials was only 2 min per shift. Postures with trunk inclination of >60 degrees were adopted for a mean of 175 (+/-133) times. The main tasks responsible for this were 'bed making' (21%), 'basic care' (16%) and 'clearing up/cleaning' (16%).
It could be shown that many stressful trunk postures are assumed in nursing work during a shift. Future preventive measures should therefore consider not only load handling but also tasks with awkward postures.
2007. Vol. 51, no 4, 385-395 p.