Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: When You Lift That Water Cooler, Lift with Your Legs, Not Your Back (Sports Med Res)


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

When You Lift That Water Cooler, Lift with Your Legs, Not Your Back

Work related injury and management strategies among certified athletic trainer’s

Kucera KL, Lipscomb HJ, Roos KG, Dement JM, and Hootman JM. J Athl Training. 2018. [Epub Ahead of Print].

Take Home Message: Approximately 12% of athletic trainers reported an injury during the prior 12 months and most modified their work but never reported a workers’ compensation claim.
Athletic training can be a physically demanding job; however, we know little about work-related injuries among athletic trainers and how these injuries are reported and managed. Therefore, Kucera and colleagues completed a cross-sectional study to determine the self-reported prevalence and incidence of work-related injuries of athletic trainers. In 2012, the authors randomly contacted 10,000 athletic trainers from a list of active athletic trainers provided by the Board of Certification. A total of 1826 athletic trainers completed the survey. The survey comprised of 130 questions assessing demographics, present job setting, work injury and illness, blood and body fluid exposure, work-related musculoskeletal symptoms, job task and demands, second job information, and general health. The primary outcome was self-reported work-related injuries, which occurred in the prior 12 months and required care beyond first aid, resulted in limitations, or required one or more day away from work. Overall, almost half of the respondents were women and most of the respondents (60%) were between the ages of 30 and 49 years, had more than 10 years of experience (51%), and worked in a secondary school (32%) or college/university (26%). A total of 247 athletic trainers (12%) reported 419 work-related injuries in the prior 12 months. Athletic trainers who were female, working 9- to 11-month contracts, and worked more than 60 hours/week were more likely to report an injury. In contrast, an athletic trainer in the clinic/hospital setting was less likely to report an injury than the other job settings. The most frequently injured body parts were the trunk (31%) and lower extremity (26%). The most frequently cited mechanisms were overexertion and repetitive motion, such as handling water coolers or ice chests (52%), and contact with objects, equipment, or persons (24%). One hundred and thirty-seven of the 247 athletic trainers (55%) sought medical care for their injury, and only 23% filed workers' compensation claims despite 89% needing to modify or change their work because of an injury. 

Overall, the results of this study are interesting because few injuries were ever reported to workers' compensation despite most athletic trainers modifying their work. Like other health professions, many athletic trainers experienced injuries related to handling or moving equipment (e.g., 40-lb coolers) or patients. However, athletic trainers also commonly experienced injuries related to being hit by athletic equipment or an athlete. This study lays the groundwork for research aimed at understanding what support systems are in place and helpful for injured athletic trainers as well as identifying and evaluating injury-prevention methods. In the meantime, athletic trainers should take heed from these results and think about what they can do in their setting to reduce their risk of injury. 

Questions for Discussion: Have you been injured at work? If so, did you report this information for workers' compensation, why or why not?

Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

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