Ergonomics study on vacuum cleaning

vacuum1Using motion capture techniques and a mock office space to determine the different ergonomic responses while using an upright vacuum versus a backpack vacuum. Overall we found that the sidewinder backpack vacuum has the best performance with greatest percent of coverage per minute and the smallest number of passes needed to clear the debris on the ground. 

Qualitative analysis of recreational equipment improvements

A simulator has been implemented that allows spinal cord injury (SCI) patients to engage in virtual skiing without being on the slopes, and without use of a custom sit ski. The use of a simulator allows multiple ski runs, faster switching out of patients, and easier reset of patients in the event of an error. While doctors and therapists note a qualitative benefit for patients using the simulator by noting improvements in the sit-ski, a quantitative analysis is needed to determine improvement based on simulator and slope time.  This project looks to quantify improvements in patients in the sit ski based on simulator use and slope time.

Real-time back compressive force analysis in the workplace

Back compressive force has been identified as a possible factor in developing low back pain. Manual material handling jobs expose workers to potentially large back compressive forces resulting in potentially higher risk of developing back pain. I am currently working on developing a system to analyze back compressive force in the workplace in real time using force sensing insole technology. This system will ideally be able to determine risk to the worker posed by tasks performed, determine the best way to mitigate the risk, and push notifications to the user about the unsafe activity and the suggestions about how to fix the lifting behavior. 

NIOSH RLE posture correction factors

The NIOSH RLE is a tool used to determine the risk of certain tasks or sets of tasks to the worker performing them. It accounts for biomechanical, physiological, and psychophysical factors when determining risk to the worker, but also makes certain assumptions in order to achieve generalizability and ease of use. We believe that some of these assumptions, such as taking measurements from the ankles instead of the L5/S1 joint for horizontal location of the load, may produce significant error in the results under certain circumstances. We are looking into the sensitivity of the NIOSH RLE with respect to different lifting postures to determine if there is basis to propose posture correction factors to be used in conjunction with the current equation to increase accuracy of risk assessment.

Exposure-response relationships for low back pain from pooled data

The proposed research will pool data from three previous studies and provide increased statistical power to estimate exposure-response relationships between measured occupational biomechanical stressors, quantified using the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation, demographics, low back pain history, psychosocial factors; and risk of low back pain (LBP), seeking care for LBP (SC-LBP), and LBP resulting in lost time (i.e., missed work) (LT-LBP).   

Exposure response relationships for CTS and Epicondylitis from pooled data

Few studies of CTS, LEPI, and MEPI address: (i) exposure-response relationships, (ii) individualized quantified biomechanical stressors, (iii) job physical exposure thresholds, (iv) individual risks (e.g. age, gender, BMI, medical history), (v) psychosocial factors, (vi) activities outside of work (e.g. hobbies, sports), and (vii) interactions among risk factors.

No epidemiological studies have addressed biomechanical stressors for complex job exposures (i.e. varying combinations of force, repetition, and posture within a task cycle) or for work involving job rotation (cumulative load). 

Modified guidelines for safe material handling using dynamic forces

A device to reduce BCF and improve return to work scenarios for workers with LBP