Susceptibility of bus drivers to acute low-back injury while assisting wheelchair users on bus ramps
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Prolonged exposure to seat vibration can impair the spinal stability of the low back, reducing the injury tolerance of the low back against physical exertions such as during wheelchair assisting. Physical activities required by bus drivers to assist wheelchair users, as mandated by law, board and disembark bus may therefore be an important risk factor contributing to high prevalence of LBDs among them. In the current study, off-duty bus drivers simulated two strategies, forward and backward, of assisting wheelchair user on bus ramps in a laboratory setting. Their static low-back compression and shear forces were estimated for various instances of the boarding and disembarking using UM-3DSSPP. It was hypothesized that the backward strategy while boarding (pulling) and forward strategy while disembarking (pulling) would cause higher compression and higher shear at L5-S1 spinal disc. Contrary to the hypothesis our analysis showed backward facing boarding assistance strategy and forward facing disembarking assistance strategy to produce significantly lower L5-S1 disc compression and can therefore be suggested to be biomechanically more favorable to the bus drivers.