A Systematic Review of Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Programs to Prevent Musculoskeletal Injuries in Occupational and Physical Therapists and Assistants



Evidence suggests that safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) programs can be successfully integrated into rehabilitation. However, a comprehensive review of the effects of SPHM programs on rehabilitation practitioners’ (occupational and physical therapists and assistants) work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) rates has not been performed. The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the effect of SPHM programs on WMSD rates and associated costs for rehabilitation practitioners. Six relevant databases were searched and 2 reviewers applied the selection criteria, evaluated methodological quality, and extracted relevant data from eligible studies. Following quality assessment, 2 controlled studies and 4 cohort studies were included in the final review. No eligible high-level studies were identified and a qualitative synthesis was performed of the 6 included studies. The systematic review found evidence that comprehensive SPHM programs can be effective in reducing healthcare practitioner injury rates. However, due to the quality of the studies and the lack of specific injury data, little can be concluded about specific effects of SPHM programs on rehabilitation practitioner WMSD rates. High-quality studies with sufficient sample sizes investigating the effects of SPHM on injury prevention for rehabilitation practitioners are needed.

Harwood KJ, Darragh AR, Campo M, Rockefeller K, Scalzitti DA

Keywords: safe patient handling and mobility, occupational therapy, physical therapy, systematic review, injury rates

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