Occupational injuries and patient lift usage among physical rehabilitation therapists

Bernadette McCrory, Jiahui Ma, Sonya L. Irons, Judith M. Burnfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are at high risk for work-related musculoskeletal pain and discomfort. OBJECTIVE: Determine the prevalence and exposure risk factors for work-related injuries (WRIs) among rehabilitation PTs and PTAs. METHODS: A cross-sectional research survey was conducted among 170 PTs and 67 PTAs at 51 free-standing rehabilitation hospitals and rehabilitation units embedded in general hospitals in the Midwestern states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. The prevalence of WRIs and significant risk factors for developing WRIs were determined for PTs and PTAs. RESULTS: The 1-year prevalence of WRIs among PTs and PTAs working in physical rehabilitation was 29.5%. Multifaceted causes were identified including frequently bending/twisting, over-exerting force during patient handling activities, inadequate lifting devices, and lack of ongoing training for mechanical lifting device usage. CONCLUSIONS: Equipment usage barriers point to a critical need for technology creation, research, and education to advance worker safety while simultaneously enhancing patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-205
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Safe patient handling
  • physical therapy
  • work-related injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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