Health Scan: Dangerous desk posture

B-G University team is using self-modeling webcam photos to reduce risk of musculoskeletal disorders among workers using computers.

Computer Kid 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Computer Kid 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘Sit up straight!” your mother or your teacher used to tell you when you slouched over your desk. In the age of computers, when many people of all ages spend much of their time seated on a chair at a desk, they need more preserve healthy posture. Now a multi-disciplinary team at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has demonstrated the efficacy of a new training method using self-modeling webcam photos to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders among workers using computers.
In an article that just appeared in the Journal of Applied Ergonomics , Dr. Meirav Taieb-Maimon and Prof. Bracha Shapira of the department of information systems engineering; Prof. Julie Cwikel of the Center for Women’s Health Studies and Promotion; Dr. Ella Kordish from occupational health and epidemiology; and Dr. Naftali Liebermann from Soroka University Medical Center’s orthopedic department, pop-up photos demonstrating ideal working posture were presented. These serve as a reminder to sit in an ergonomically proper way.
The Beersheba researchers, who included students Ido Orenstein, Dudi Ben Shimon and Denis Klimov, conducted an experiment with 60 university and hospital employees who work at computer terminals and the results showed that the webcam pop-up photos were more effective than conventional ergonomic training. Both interventions had a greater effect on older workers and those who already suffered musculoskeletal pain. Women were found to benefit more than men from the phototraining method, but in both sexes, the changes were sustained over time. The project was funded by Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor grant to utilize video and computer-based technology for alleviating and preventing occupational health problems.
“Our innovative intervention using photo-training combines conventional ergonomic training with an automatic visual feedback system,” explained Taieb-Maimon.
“The system provides the worker with continual feedback on their working habits using their own photos that popup on their personal computer screen. This gives real-time feedback on their working posture as they contrast the photo of their current sitting style with the photo of themselves sitting in the recommended ergonomically-correct position that they were taught at the beginning of the experiment. Both types of training – traditional and photo training – were effective, but the pop-up photo-training was more effective for older workers, workers who already had musculoskeletal problems and women as compared to men in the experiment.”
Vipers and other poisonous snakes bite any time of the year, but they are most dangerous in the spring when toxin has accumulated in their glands during the winter months when they hibernate. The hospital system always needs a supply of serum to counter the toxin of snakes native to this part of the world. In the past, foreign supplies were inadequate and sometimes short.
Now the Kamada biopharmaceutical company at Kiryat Weizmann in Ness Ziona has launched a national project with the Health Ministry to produce snake serum and supply it locally as well as to export it. The new production line, housed in a 20-dunam facility in Beit Kama and recognized as meeting the highest standards of quality, has opened after staffers have been trained for the assignment.
Prof. Itamar Grotto, the head of the ministry’s public health service, said that every year, scores – and sometimes hundreds – of Israelis are bitten by poisonous snakes. Being treated with the appropriate serum is vital to save the victims. Kamada’s advanced technology persuaded the ministry to choose it to produce the antidotes, he said at a recent ceremony.
The Israeli company, which is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, is expert in developing, producing and marketing unique lifesaving drugs for injection, infusion and inhalation. It currently produces 10 such drugs that are registered and marketed in more than 15 countries, and holds patents on advanced technologies for purifying and separating proteins. One of them, Glassia, is meant for treating alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited disorder that requires inhalation for treatment. It is also involved in clinical trials on drugs against rabies and type 1 diabetes
The Save a Child’s Heart organization (SACH), based at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, has finally become recognized officially as a United Nations non-governmental organization. It recently received final confirmation of its status from the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which will enable it to work closely towards a common global agenda with member states, UN staffers and other NGOs.
SACH, founded by the late pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Ami Cohen, has since 1995 had a mission to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries and create centers of competence in these countries. Its volunteers believe that every child with congenital heart disease deserves the best medical treatment available, regardless of nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation. Volunteer doctors and nurses regularly perform heart surgery on children at Wolfson and travel to developing countries to do surgery and train local doctors.
Cohen came on aliya from the US in 1992 and joined the Wolfson staff, serving as deputy chief of cardiovascular surgery and then director of pediatric cardiac surgery.
In 1988, while serving in the US armed forces in Korea, the head of the international organization Save the Hearts, which sent orphaned and indigent Korean children to Western countries for medical care not available locally, approached Cohen; he was so impressed with the concept that he asked for and received permission from his superiors to participate. During the remainder of his time in Korea, he performed 35 pediatric cardiac operations.
After his move to Israel, an Ethiopian doctor referred to Cohen by a mutual friend at the University of Massachusetts asked him for help with two children in desperate need of heart surgery. Since then, SACH has repaired the hearts of more than 2,500 children from a wide variety of countries. Tragically, the good doctor died in a 2001 accident while climbing the Kilimanjaro Mountain, but his life project – which serves as his memorial – continues.