Study: Back Supports Reduce Injury Rates as much as 26 Percent

July 11, 2002
Back support users have significantly lower injury rates than non-users, and the gap is widened among back support users with high risk factors, such as current or previous back injuries, according to new research.

A new study published in the May/June issue of The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health examined 12,700 home aides over a 28-month period in which they worked 45 million hours.

The workers were divided up into three groups:

  • Those assigned to wear a back belt.
  • Those assigned to receive lifting advice only.
  • Those assigned to the control group (no intervention).

The study found the back support wearers had an average 15 percent fewer acute back injuries than did the workers who were only given lifting advice and 26 percent fewer acute back injuries than workers given neither lifting advice or back supports.

The study also found that belt-wearing groups with such risk factors as older age, increased body mass, less-frequent exercise or with current or past reported back injury, tended to experience decreased rates of back injury compared to the advice-only or control-group workers with the same risk factors.

Researchers say the study is unique in that it is the first large-scale prospective epidemiological study on back belts to utilize a true control group, a set of participants unaware they were in the study. This provided researchers with a reliable comparison of the effectiveness or influence of the back belt.

Ergodyne, St. Paul, Minn., supplied the back supports for the study.

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