Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in sonography professionals have a reported incidence of 90%. These disorders are defined as conditions that are either caused by or aggravated by tasks performed in the workplace. These injuries have a financial and emotional impact on the worker and affect workplace productivity and quality patient care. The causes for these injuries are multifactorial and therefore require a variety of solutions for mitigating injury risk. Sonographer work postures, work schedules, task rotation, administrative support, and ergonomic workplace equipment all enter into the formula for reducing the incidence of these disorders.
Causes for injury
1. Biomechanical/environmental factors: these include the workstation, the exam room equipment, the ultrasound system, and the exam room layout.
2. Administrative factors: Employees may have to work beyond their regularly scheduled hours due to staffing shortages or busier patient schedules, which leads to reduced muscle recovery time.
3. Worker practices: these are the postures sonographers use when scanning or working at a computer workstation.
Types of injury
Sonographers are at risk for the following injuries
• The shoulder is the most common body part injured in sonographers and the injury includes bursitis, tendinitis and rotator cuff tears.
• Inflammation of the tendons (tendonitis) and/or tendon sheath (tenosynovitis) of the hand and wrist are also common among sonographers.
Best practices for mitigating
Sonographer occupational injury as these injuries have multiple causative factors, reducing or eliminating injury risk hazards can be done in multiple ways. Preventive measures can range from simple work posture changes that conform to the department’s existing equipment to upgrading the department with state-of-the-art ultrasound systems, exam tables, and chairs.
However, all the best equipment is only as good as the willingness of the user to optimize the features of that equipment and to make work posture changes. Therefore, it is a combination of factors that has a positive impact on reducing injury risk hazards. Sonographers should sit or stand so that they can move down the length of the exam table when necessary to prevent reaching back while scanning. They should also position themselves in front of the most frequently used keys on the ultrasound control panel to avoid reaching across their bodies. Strain on the shoulder can be reduced by using an arm support device while scanning.
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