What is "Ergonomics"?
Roughly translated, “ergonomics” is Greek for “fitting a job to the person”. In modern practice, the term has come to encompass the art and science of helping people use the tools in their life more efficiently in order to prevent injury and chronic physical problems.
Those “tools” can range from literal implements such as a hammer or a laptop to larger equipment you rely on in order to function in your daily life, including your desk, chair, and even your car.
Along with the objects in your life, the tasks themselves often need evaluating. An ergonomics specialist determines if workplace requirements or home responsibilities are physically suited to individual clients — and if not, what can be done about it.
Why do patients usually seek out an ergonomics specialist?
Often, a general practitioner or specialist will recommend an ergonomics evaluation to a patient who is experiencing pain and discomfort. Conditions that can be helped by ergonomics include sprains and strains, rotator cuff tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tennis elbow, and “trigger finger.”
Along with these chronic pain issues, a doctor who has treated a patient for a workplace, home, or sports injury may recommend that the patient have the patient’s environment evaluated in order to avoid future injuries
What happens during an ergonomic evaluation?
Both the worker and his or her environment are evaluated during a session with an ergonomics specialist. Often this involves the workplace, but other places in which the patient frequently needs to be can also be evaluated. (If he or she is caring for a family member, for example, or is pursuing a serious extracurricular activity like sports or the arts.)
Seeing the patient in his or her environment helps the ergonomic specialist evaluate the patient’s method of pursuing the work, the nature of the work and its equipment, and the patient’s general capacities for doing that work.
Often, subtle changes to equipment or to body movement can help ease chronic pain and reduce the risk of injury. But there are times in which it takes the credibility of a certified specialist to make those changes happen in the workplace or relevant environment.