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What's HOT in Ergonomics
Driver Safety
A Driver Safety Program from AARP that focuses on proper fitting of a person in a car
Posted April 2008

"CarFit" is a community based educational program that has been created and designed in conjunction with the American Society on Aging in collaboration with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), American Automotive Association (AAA) and American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Trained volunteers take a "CarFit" participant through a 12-point checklist designed to help older drivers find their best fit in their vehicle. A best fit includes making sure the mirrors are adjusted properly to reduce blind spots, adjusting the headrest to reduce injuries in case of a crash, adjusting the seat properly so you can reach your gas, brake and clutch, but still have enough room for the airbag to deploy, etc. A practitioner also reviews the checklist with the driver and may demonstrate and recommend adaptive devices that can help drivers find their best fit.

The whole process takes only 20 minutes; older drivers leave the event with a copy of their checklist and a list of community resources to help them. To sign up for a "CarFit" event happening near you, visit

To find the closest AARP driver safety class, visit:
CarFit Exam 12-point checklist

Topics from the Journals and Websites

Low back pain recovery slow; and worse for those on compensation
Research that should encourage Prevention as the best treatment for MSD's -Ed.

Contrary to current guidelines and common belief, new research published in The British Medical Journal has shown that recovery from low back pain is much slower than previously thought and even slower again for those with a compensable injury.

Australian researchers at The George Institute for International Health proved that prognosis from acute (or recent) lower back pain is not as favorable as claimed in clinical practice guidelines and challenges the common belief that 90% of patients recover within four to six weeks, with our without treatment.

"These are extremely important results because they confirm that low back pain is a significant health problem and that there is substantial room for improvement in its management," said Professor Maher. "We found that recovery from low back pain was typically much slower than previously reported - nearly one third of patients did not recover from the original episode within a year."

Professor Chris Maher, The George Institute, Australia and colleagues studied 973 patients with acute low back pain for one year. Each was managed by their preferred clinician; a doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor, who followed treatment guidelines established by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

These new findings show that even with treatment, after two months only 50% had fully recovered from the original episode of pain. At one year about 40% reported that their back was still causing them pain.

"These results challenge the accepted view that recovery is rapid following an episode of acute low back pain. For many people back pain becomes a long-term problem that severely impacts their life. This is despite receiving what we think is the best possible care. We clearly need to rethink our approach," Professor Maher added.

The strongest predictor of delayed recovery was if the episode of low back pain was compensable: compensation halved the chances of recovery.

"The results also highlight that we should review our compensation system because people within this system do much worse than those outside of it."

(i) Martin BI, Deyo RA, Mirza SK, Turner JA, Comstock BA, Hollingworth W, et al. Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems. JAMA. 2008 Feb 13;299(6):656-64.

Contact: Emma Orpilla
Research Australia

The Government Corner

You may not have the opportunity to do a job hazard analysis (JHA's) in a Hot Dog factory but they are needed. Check out the "link" below to see an analysis and report from NIOSH that was done in May of this year. You'll "relish" the information.

The take home message is not only that this problem is being addressed by NIOSH but you should take a look at this report as to how it is written. You will see how a JHA report should look like. By saving this report, you could use it as a template for doing your own employers / companies JHA's irregardless of what their product maybe. Copy this address on your web browser for the whole article:
Then scroll down to "Health Hazard Evaluation: Evaluation of Potential Musculoskeletal Hazard" and click on the article. I think you will find this report useful.

Ergo Science

An article by Laura Walter published in Ergoweb on July 22nd 2008 titled "Carpal Tunnel Culprits for Commuters" found that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects people who spend long periods commuting or using cell phones.

The article recommended drivers keeping their hands in line with their elbows and hands at the nine and three o'clock positions. Thus avoiding wrists being held out of neutral positions. The same is felt to be true of individuals who hold cell phones. The article also recommended that wrist splints that "force the wrist to remain in a straight position could be beneficial for drivers who spend long hours behind the wheel."

It is the opinion of the BSOA Newsletter editor that wearing splints while driving an automobile may place the driver at risk due to reduced motion available to the wrists during emergency maneuvers. Rather the case should be made for Ergo or rest breaks to be incorporated into long driving scenarios. Also the positioning of hands at the eight and five o'clock points and/or the use of armrests would be better choices or options to the splints.

Did you know...?

There are 45 miles of nerves in the skin of a human being.
There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body.

Now do you appreciate the Nutrient Pathway a little more?

Ergo Websites, Ergo Products, gadgets and doodads

Easi-Grip Arm Support Cuff For people who enjoy working in their gardens but are limited by wrist or hand pain, there are several companies that make ergonomic garden tools. One of the better designs is called an Easi-Grip Arm Support Cuff. The adaptor accepts several of the tools that the Wright Stuff company sells and allows the shoulder and elbow to decrease the strain on the wrist and hand.

This is a handy garden tool to protect the wrist and hand and comes with several attachments. If you would never go outside to try one of these, I hope you have a good alternative relaxation strategy in place. Remember, stress reduction is part of ergonomics too.

This newsletter produced in association with ERGOCATION, LLC.

In this issue:
What's HOT in Ergonomics
Topics from the Journals and Websites
The Government Corner
Ergo Science
Did you know...
Ergo Websites, Ergo Products, gadgets and doodads

Robert Niklewicz, PT, DHSc, CIE, CEAS

Ronald W. Porter, PT, CEAS
Director, Back School of Atlanta