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Occupational Injuries Among Physiotherapists: A Case Study in Zimbabwe

U Useh
EU Igumbor
DM Madzivire


The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence, severity, risks, occupational safety and responses of physiotherapists to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). The subjects for this study were physiotherapists registered with the Medical Rehabilitation Council of Zimbabwe. A total of 198 questionnaires were mailed to physiotherapists in different hospitals and practices in Zimbabwe in the form of a 6-page protocol. Musculoskeletal symptoms in all body areas, physiotherapy speciality areas and tasks, job-related risk factors, preventive strategies adopted (if any) and responses of physiotherapists to WMSDs were investigated. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of physiotherapists reported experiencing WMSDs. The highest prevalence of symptoms was reported in the low back (52.1%), upper back (34.6%) and thumbs (32.5%). One in four physiotherapists took sick leave or required treatment because of WMSDs. Younger physiotherapists reported higher prevalence of symptoms in the upper back, thumb, wrists, hands and neck. The job factor rated most likely to contribute to WMSDs was lifting or transferring dependent patients. The study highlights that knowledge of ergonomics, injury and treatment does not offer the physiotherapist immunity from injury and that occupational safety among physiotherapists should be further investigated.

African Safety Promotion Vol.1(2) 2002: 26-33

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eISSN: 1728-774X