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    Preventing Sprains & Strains at the Workplace

    Dr. Keith Baugh and Mindy Shoulders, FNP-C Deaconess Work Comp 11/30/2020
    As the colder weather trickles in, bringing with it snow, ice, illnesses, high patient census, and increased workload, instead of practicing more self-care, we tend to feel rushed and fatigued leading to us taking more shortcuts and trying to find the easiest way to do things.
    During this season, the Work Comp Center also sees an increase in work-related injuries, led by sprains, strains and fall-related injuries. Many of these injuries are caused by using poor body mechanics, slipping, tripping or falling. The good news is that most of these injuries are preventable in the workplace.

    As a provider, we often get asked what the difference is between a sprain and strain. A sprain is a stressed or torn ligament; whereas, a strain is a stressed or torn tendon or muscle. Both injuries are typically initially treated the same – with rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) – depending on the degree of injury. In most cases, these painful injuries can be prevented.

    Everyone wants to find the easiest and quickest route to complete a task, whether it be taking the path less traveled to our vehicle after a long day of work, or using poor body mechanics when repositioning a patient, or picking up a heavy item. These “shortcuts” often lead to a musculoskeletal sprain or strain. Here are a few suggestions in preventing these common injuries:
    • Wear appropriate shoes. Did you know that shoes that do not fit properly can impair balance? Choosing the proper footwear is essential in preventing falls. Choose shoes that fit right, provide comfort and support, and have nonskid soles. Ask yourself if it is time to treat yourself to a new pair of shoes before the weather gets bad. Deaconess Midtown and Deaconess Gateway offers several stores that contain a wide variety of shoes that meet these criteria. Nonskid soles are especially important when walking in the rain, snow and ice.
    • Be aware of your surroundings. Many injuries are caused by people not paying attention to their surroundings because they are walking while talking on their cell phone. Patients often fall from missing a step, stepping in holes in the ground, tripping over debris or items in their path, tripping when walking on rough terrain, walking into items, or slipping on ice or a wet surface.
    • Use proper body mechanics or equipment. Often when we are tired, short-staffed, or in a hurry, we just do the job ourselves to save time and the hassle of finding someone to help. Proper body mechanics when lifting, and safe lifting equipment, need to be used to prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Deaconess has several resources available that teach proper body mechanics and how to use the lift equipment. Did you know that Deaconess employees are able to have a free ergonomic evaluation performed by a certified Physical Therapist? If you are having back pain while sitting at a desk, or pain in your wrist when using your keyboard or mouse, call the Deaconess Comp Center Physical Therapy department.
    • Practice self-care. Is it time to treat yourself to some R & R (rest and relaxation)? Many work-related injuries are caused from lack of self-care. Self-care is different for everyone. Find something that makes you feel mentally and physically refreshed. Self-care can include things like taking time for yourself to get a mani-pedi, going for a hike, being in nature, taking an exercise class, etc. find something that you enjoy and find relaxing. Self-care is good for your body, mind and soul. Remember, YOU are important and many people depend on you, including your family, friends, coworkers, patients and those in the community. So take the time to care for yourself.
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