Date Published: 3 November 2005

Two thirds of physiotherapists have work-related musculoskeletal disorders

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Recently reported research reveals that more than two thirds of physiotherapy staff suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the very conditions they are trained to treat.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), which published the study, wants the National Health Service (NHS) and private sector employers to develop strategies to reduce the incidence of injuries. The society says employers must ensure thorough risk assessments for all staff are carried out.

According to the research:

  • 68% of physiotherapists, physiotherapy assistants and physiotherapy students on clinical placement reported having an musculoskeletal disorder.
  • 48% had experienced work-related low back pain.
  • 40% suffered hand, wrist or thumb problems.
  • 44% had not had a risk assessment in their current post, suggesting some employers might be failing in their legal obligations because employers must provide risk assessments for staff as part of the health and safety regulations.
  • Younger physiotherapists and new graduates were most at risk of injury.

CSP Chair of Council Sarah Bazin said that the findings of the study are concerning because a physiotherapist's hands are 'the tools of their trade'.

" Every year many physiotherapists suffer injuries that are directly associated with the work they do to help their patients prevent and recover from similar injuries and other illnesses," said Ms Bazin.

The CSP is calling on the Department of Health and NHS employers to fund research into the design of physiotherapy departments, aimed at identifying 'best practice' ergonomics and eliminating poor working environments.

" We believe many of these work-related injuries can be prevented. That's why employers, managers, and other stakeholders need to work with us to develop practical guidance and assistance for physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants to prevent injury," emphasized Sarah Bazin, chair of the CSP.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has also called for employers to review training needs, including looking at rotations where risk factors may vary. It has said that employers should provide induction programmes and mentoring schemes. It would also like to see a review of electronic booking systems to enable physios more flexibility to see 'light duty' patients where appropriate, workplace accident forms made more user-friendly to encourage reporting of injuries and physiotherapy and other occupational health services available on-site.

Source(s): Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, UK

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