The biomechanical demands of manual scaling on the shoulders & neck of dental hygienists

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the postural and muscular demands placed on the shoulders and neck of dental hygienists when performing a simulated manual scaling task. Nineteen healthy female dental hygienists performed 30-min of simulated manual scaling on a manikin head in a laboratory setting. Surface electromyography was used to monitor muscle activity from several neck and shoulder muscles, and neck and arm elevation kinematics were evaluated using motion capture. The simulated scaling task resulted in a large range of neck and arm elevation angles and excessive low-level muscular demands in the neck extensor and scapular stabilising muscles. The physical demands varied depending on the working position of the hygienists relative to the manikin head. These findings are valuable in guiding future ergonomics interventions aimed at reducing the physical exposures of dental hygiene work.

Source: La Delfa, Nicholas J., Grondin, Diane E., Cox, Jocelyn, Potvin, Jim R., & Howarth, Samuel J. (2016). Ergonomics.

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