Thursday, December 14, 2006

Selecting Equipment to Fit Your Ergonomic Needs

The risks of musculoskeletal disorders in dentistry ...

"It has been well documented that dental professionals are at high risk for musculoskeletal disorders. Over 65 percent of dentists have experienced neck, shoulder or low back musculoskeletal disorders.1 Ergonomic risk factors such as repetitive motion, excessive force, awkward and static posture, and exposure to vibration can lead to these disorders.2-4 Some risk factors can be minimized but not totally eliminated, such as repetitive motions with sustained pinch forces.

Clinicians can implement various strategies through a well-designed ergonomic plan to reduce musculoskeletal disorders. Many, such as body mechanics, can be implemented with minimal cost. This includes positioning, stretching, and varying tasks. Dental equipment design may also impact musculoskeletal health. Manufacturers are constantly adapting equipment to help clinicians control or eliminate risk factors. There are no industry standards for ergonomic equipment for dentistry. Clinicians should select equipment that fits their needs, not equipment they must adapt to. This article focuses on equipment that meets individual needs.

Dental Chairs and Delivery Systems

One of the most prevalent musculoskeletal risk factors is awkward posture. Several things can help promote better posture. Clinicians should evaluate their chair, patient chair, and delivery system, since these three pieces must fit the clinician’s physical stature to promote proper posture. Both the height and backrest design of the patient chair should be considered to maintain a neutral position during delivery of care. The patient chair should be lowered and the back rest reclined for the clinician to move freely without thighs or knees being obstructed, and a small, thin headrest and narrow upper backrest will help maintain neutral posture and close proximity to the patient.5 The clinician should not have to lean forward to see into the oral cavity."    (Continued via Woman Dentist Journal)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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