Aging of physical therapists: From musculoskeletal complaints to self-protective behaviours

Rosa Squadroni, Norma Barbini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical therapists are at risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders; however, we know little about the range of problems, their severity, or the implications in the maintenance of therapists at work. The aims of this study were: a) to investigate the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in a population of therapists; b) to analyse the postures adopted; and c) to understand the behavioural strategies adopted to cope with work demand. A self-administered questionnaire was submitted to 20 physical therapists to investigate the presence of musculoskeletal symptoms. An ergonomic study was also carried out to quantify the awkward postures and to understand the strategies adopted. The prevalence for back pain was higher in the younger therapists, while an opposite trend was observed for upper limbs. Two-thirds of the therapists declared they had multiple MS complaints. The job analysis showed that awkward postures were frequently adopted. Therapists with upper limb disorders needed to alternate "heavy" patient rehabilitation with a "soft" therapy. The younger therapists preferred to give up their usual breaks when more than one patient was waiting, while the older ones elaborated compensation strategies to deal with the increased work rhythms. A reduction of the scheduled time of therapy was sometimes observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-233
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Congress Series
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


  • Aging
  • Musculoskeletal disorder
  • Therapist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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