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Keywords:

  • biofeedback;
  • lifting;
  • low back injury;
  • moments

Abstract

Background and Purpose. To assess if lifting performance can be modified and spine stresses reduced in workers who perform repetitive material-handling jobs in a warehouse environment via a novel real-time, movement-based feedback training protocol. Method. A pre-test/post-test group study design was used with a control group. Data were collected in a warehouse setting and analysed in a university setting. A convenience sample of 22 male warehouse employees was divided equally, based on height and weight, and assigned to either an experimental group or a control group. The experimental group received real-time, performance-based auditory feedback from their calculated moments during lifting or lowering using an electromagnetic tracking system. The electromagnetic tracking system was used to measure the side-bending, flexion and rotation moments during six lifts under four different conditions. A series of repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) (one between (Group); one within (Time)) was performed on the average maximum moments from six lifting or lowering cycles for all three directions: side-bending, flexion and rotation. Results. There were significant group X time interactions for the side-bending moment (p < 0.05) and the flexion moment (p < 0.05) but not the rotation moment (p > 0.05). Lower moments were found in the experimental group, which received the training and feedback, compared to the control group. Conclusions. Real-time, auditory feedback combined with coaching during lifting or lowering tasks may be effective in the short term (six weeks) in reducing the average maximum side-bending and flexion moments in warehouse workers. Further research is needed to determine the long-term effects of this training protocol on low back injury rates. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.