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Back Injury Patients Adjust Seated-Task Torso Movement

Spinal cord injury, low back pain subjects aim to make up for limited balance, attempt to stop pain

THURSDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People with spinal cord injury (SCI) and low back pain (LBP) may adjust the movement of their torsos while executing seated tasks to compensate for lack of balance in the former group and to minimize pain in the latter group, according to research published in the Sept. 1 issue of Spine.

K. Han Kim, Ph.D., of the Washington State Department of Labor of Industries in Olympia, and colleagues examined 10 subjects with SCI, 10 with LBP, and 11 controls performing one- or two-handed loaded transports to one of six targets. The limitations and adaptations in seated manual transport tasks were characterized for the two injured groups.

The researchers found that both SCI and LBP subjects had less torso flexion and axial rotation than controls, and that SCI subjects had a tendency to move their torsos away from the target in an attempt to maintain upper body balance. The authors write that the LBP subjects may have limited the motions of their torsos in order to avoid pain. One-handed transports and transports to a frontal target resulted in significantly reduced differences among the groups.

"In general, this study suggests that rehabilitation efforts using this information should not create fear or activity avoidance, but should educate persons with disability in ways to optimize their seated environment. Workplace adaptation needs to recognize the physiologic cost associated with the maintenance of performance and biomechanical constraints imposed by the tasks," the authors conclude.

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