Saturday, October 06, 2007

Dealing with back injuries

Veterinarians dealing with back pain ...

"Decades of working with large animals have taken their toll on the back of Dr. John W. Fields.

From shoeing horses before college to practicing bovine and equine medicine, Dr. Fields was already feeling back strain from heavy lifting. But a horse accident in 1994 and a truck accident in 2004 left his back permanently damaged—and kept him away from his practice for months each time while he recuperated.

"Now I do rehab on a daily basis. I wear a back support that my orthopedic surgeon recommended anytime I'm going to be lifting or using my upper body for anything more than sitting or walking," Dr. Fields said. "In retrospect, I wish someone had convinced me to use (a back support) 20 years ago. Hindsight is always 20-20."

Dr. Fields is far from alone in his experiences with back injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, at 35.5 percent, the trunk is the part of the body most affected by work-related incidents, and back injuries account for 63 percent of all trunk-related incidents.

Veterinarians are prone to back injuries. In 2006, the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust paid claims totaling more than $4 million for back disorders, which ranked fourth in costs among all diagnostic categories, after complications of surgical and medical care ($12.1 million), general symptoms ($5.9 million), and joint disorders ($5.7 million). A 2007 analysis by The Hartford of claims activity for participants in the AVMA PLIT found that the most severe injuries were associated with improper lifting, with a typical workers' compensation claim totaling $22,000, which often includes disability expenses.

Back injuries are physically and emotionally devastating. The long road to recovery can spell financial ruin for veterinarians without the kind of insurance coverage that helps them keep their practices running while they recuperate."    (Continued via JAVMA)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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