Measuring Spine Shrinkage as an Indicator of Cumulative Loading in Nurses

Nurses injure their backs at alarming rates. Experts now agree that most injuries are not due to a single lifting activity where the load exceeds the spine's ability to support it, as has been the conventional view. Instead, it is likely that most back Injuries are the result of the total loading (cumulative load) the spine is exposed to over the day. Unfortunately, it is difficult to estimate cumulative loading of the spine using conventional methods. The applicant proposes a new method for estimating cumulative loading which involves measuring changes in a nurse's height. An individual's height decreases by ~1% over the day. Experts believe that this change is proportional to the loading on the spine. The applicant will determine if it is possible to estimate cumulative loading of the spine by simply measuring changes in height. Ten participants will perform different activities ranging from seated desk work to simulated nursing activities while precise height measurements are taken every hour. Our ultimate goal is to develop a tool that nurses and other workers will use for assessing their own cumulative load exposure. This work includes usability testing of a new device called the ForceShoe which the industrial partner (A-Tech Instruments) will bring onto the market as a new product in the near future.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Milos Popovich


Tilak Dutta


iDAPT Inc.




Life sciences


University of Toronto



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