Lead with Movement to Promote Total Musculoskeletal Health

Dr. Rick Wickstrom, PT, DPT, CPE, CME of WorkAbility Systems and Mark Brown of Spring Grove Cemetery and Funeral Homes presented an innovative proof of concept for a small business workplace wellness event at 2023 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo. Their presentation was titled, Leading with Movement Screens to Promote Total Musculoskeletal Health.

Mark Brown began by sharing his perspectives as the Human Resources Director during the past two decades with workplace health programs. He emphasized that top down leadership commitment is essential to enhance safety and health of all employees. He described how Spring Grove partnered with WorkAbility Systems and other community health providers to implement a wholistic approach to policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness-prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.

Dr. Wickstrom began by sharing financial and productivity impacts of musculoskeletal health conditions that affect one of two working adults. A recent high quality study design by Song et al. 2019 revealed that the primary outcomes for a traditional workplace wellness program is that participants report more engagement in lifestyle behaviors of physical activity and diet management. He engaged attendees in a discussion about limitations for workers and employers when the annual wellness exam is directed primarily by primary care providers:

Attendees learned about the evolution of standardized movement protocols that became a standard component of US Army entrance physical exams to qualify soldiers for active duty in 1923 for WWII. A similar sequence of orthopaedic screening movements was introduced in guidelines for youth sport participation exams in 1977. The WorkAbility Movement Screen developed for workplace wellness programs contains researched performance-based tasks of flexibility, balance, strength and agility that are acceptable to workers with a wide range of physical fitness. Workers receive an individual report as well as immediate feedback on how to promote suitable physical activity and self-manage musculoskeletal symptoms. Employers receive a de-identified group report. The represented tasks for the Active Movement Scale that were demonstrated with audience participation are illustrated below. More about this service

Dr. Wickstrom provided a flow chart for Leading with Movement Health exams and lifestyle fitness coaching from hire to retire:

Logistics were compared for a traditional workplace group event to collect cardiovascular biometrics, versus individual appointments for musculoskeletal movement screens:  

This presentation concluded with a discussion of group aggregate finding for this small business proof of concept. The benefits for lead with movement include:

Businesses with traditional workplace wellness programs have had to modify their approach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Offering an annual musculoskeletal movement screen by appointment at the workplace or a convenient clinic greatly simplifies the logistics and access to employees compared to group events. Musculoskeletal Movement Screens offer a more affordable starting point for businesses that is less disruptive. Participants may participate in person or virtually. We discovered that almost 70% of participants received instructions on how to better engage in suitable physical activity or alleviate musculoskeletal symptoms. For more information about how to implement this service, you may contact 866-772-1026 or book a demo

Rick Wickstrom, PT, DPT, CPE, CME is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Professional Ergonomist, and Certified Medical Examiner. He is the President of WorkAbility Systems. His clinical expertise and publications relate to wellness movement screens, functional capacity evaluation, job demands analysis, accommodation and disability prevention programs. Dr. Wickstrom teaches a WorkAbility Examiner Advanced Course that is available to physical therapists, occupational therapists, and athletic trainers.

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