A biomechanical comparison between expert and novice manual materials handlers using a multi-joint EMG-assisted optimization musculoskeletal model of the lumbar spine.
J Biomech. 2016 Jul 18;
Authors: Gagnon D, Plamondon A, Larivière C
Expertise is a key factor modulating the risk of low back disorders (LBD). Through years of practice in the workplace, the typical expert acquires high level specific skills and maintains a clean record of work-related injuries. Ergonomic observations of manual materials handling (MMH) tasks show that expert techniques differ from those of novices, leading to the idea that expert techniques are safer. Biomechanical studies of MMH tasks performed by experts/novices report mixed results for kinematic/kinetic variables, evoking potential internal effect of expertise. In the context of series of box transfers simulated by actual workers, detailed internal loads predicted by a multiple-joint EMG-assisted optimization lumbar spine model are compared between experts and novices. The results confirmed that the distribution of internal moments are modulated by worker expertise. Experts flexed less their lumbar spine and exerted more active muscle forces while novices relied more on passive resistance of the muscles and ligamentous spine. More specifically for novices, the passive contributions came from global extensor muscles, selected local extensor muscles, and passive structures of the lumbar spine (ligaments and discs). The distinctive distribution of internal forces was not concomitant with a similar effect on joint forces, these forces being dependent on external loading which was equivalent between experts and novices. From a safety standpoint, the present results suggest that experts were more efficient than novices in partitioning internal moment contributions to balance net (external) loading. Thus, safer handling practices might be seen as a result of experts? experience.
PMID: 27469898 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]