Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) account for nearly 50% of the compensation-related absences. MSDs tend to develop over time and have longer rehabilitation than traumatic injuries. Early detection of MSD risk indicators is crucial.
Recent research consistently links sedentary behaviours to health degradation including MSDs. Office workplaces are typically sedentary and involve intensive computer use, characteristics which are exacerbated by the sedentary hours spent outside work. Indeed, approximately 75% of office workers report significant discomfort in one or more body regions, particularly concentrated in the neck, back and shoulders, typically being perceived as related to work. Since discomfort is a precursor to pain which itself is an indicator of MSDs, perceived discomfort and fatigue are leading physical stress indicators of MSDs. Adhering to regular periodic movement and exercise can off-set the health degradation related to sedentary time. Alternating between sitting and standing working postures is the most studied and recommended way to ensure periodic postural changes over a workday, although workstations which allow such changes are often not used as much and as regularly as they should be. Extended training resulted in more use, although workers with sit-stand stations their usage drops over time following the end of training. Thus, while whole body postural changes are desirable, and the idea of interspersing breaks within work periods is accepted, application is problematic. Furthermore, variations in minor and major postural variations over time have not been studied but our preliminary research found their characteristics may indicate propensity to developing pain.
By using association mining techniques on postural data we have been able to discover association between the expression of certain sequences of postural states (termed a “postural gesture”) and the presence or absence of the experience of pain, fatigue, etc.
This ongoing project examines the relationship between these postural gestures, their duration and frequency, and the levels of deleterious experience associated with them.