A Real Pain in the Neck: Surgeons' Posture
Surgeons spent most of their time during operations forcing their bodies into bad postures, wearable sensors confirmed. The study monitors the ergonomics of surgeons at work and identifies risk factors for injury using wearable sensor inertial measurement units (IMUs), led by Andrew Meltzer, reported online in JAMA Surgery.

The sensors - each with an accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope - allowed for continuous recording and measurement of deviations from neutral body position. Fifty-three surgeons representing 12 surgical specialties underwent continuous IMU recording during 115 cases. Surgeons had 4 IMUs placed on their head, torso, and upper arms to measure deviations from neutral body position.

As a result, surgeons spent 65% of procedure time in high-risk neck positions. High-risk positions for the torso and shoulders were observed during 30% and 11% of the minutes of procedure time, respectively. The highest postural neck risk for surgeons was during open vs laparoscopic procedures. Surgeons tended to report more pain if they were working longer cases, had more years of practice under their belt, and were using loupes and headlights. In turn, surgeon self-reported pain tended to correlate with ergonomic risk, Meltzer and colleagues found.

The health care workforce faces numerous occupational hazards, and efforts to address these problems have focused on improving safety for support staff, nurses. However, pain among surgeons has garnered much less attention, despite the implications of practitioner injury and disability on the surgical workforce.

"The physical demands of performing surgery are real. A surgeon's cervical spine, in particular, is at unacceptably elevated risk during many procedures. Poor ergonomics are a cause of chronic pain and disability for many surgeons, reducing career longevity and threatening the public's access to surgical care," the author said.

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/2762518
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