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Quick Concepts: Ergonomics

QuickConceptsSeries_Screen_FINAL (1)[It] is a great fallacy: the Wisdom of [Age]. They do not grow wise.

They grow careful.

That quotation, taken from Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms carries a deeper meaning for ultrasound/sonographic professionals insomuch as a lack of attention to ergonomics early in your career can result in a later “Farewell” to musculoskeletal comfort in your arms, shoulders and wrist.

posture25% of sonographers end their careers in scanning based on injuries sustained as a result of the “wear and tear” associated to the occupation.  Admittedly, your body is more resilient to misuse in your twenties and thirties.  However, without precautions one finds this becomes less true over time.

Developing good ergonomics is a practice best embraced early in one’s scanning career.  Sadly, many people “see the light” only after pain and discomfort arise.  With that in mind, we outline a Top-5 list of habits to adopt in the video below.

cantilever-faliureFor those of you fascinated by the underlying physical principles, the science behind this is also illustrated in studying cantilevers.  Your arm, attached to the trunk of your body by the shoulder, operates as a cantilever when the arm is extended. The weight of your arm is generally around 5-6% of your total body weight on average.  Accordingly, we are lifting at least that 7-9lbs and exerting greater forces of tension/shear as it approaches 90% (perpendicular) to the body trunk.

shoulder-musclesStated another way, the higher you raise your arm and the farther away you reach, the more stress and strain your shoulder endures. It should, therefore, seem clear that keeping our arm at lower angles (less than 300), and the patient closer to us will reduce those stress forces operating against our shoulders.

Following good ergonomics and preventative measures will help you avoid ending your sonographic career prematurely.


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