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Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)

First Advisor

Nancy Cicirello, MPH, PT

Second Advisor

Jay Salzman, BS, PT


School district employees in the special education setting, in contrast with nurses and industrial workers, have been scarcely studied with respect to their incidence of low back pain. These workers are required to lift and transfer students with disabilities daily and are at risk of occupational back injury. Forty-seven subjects from four different school age settings were observed for three two hour periods. Number of lifts and amount of weight (whole pound weight of the student with disability) were recorded. Results revealed a large variance in both lifting frequency and total weight lifted among subjects in each setting. In early intervention, total weight lifted ranged from 30-125 pounds (lbs.) with a lifting frequency range of 1-11. Total weight range of elementary school subjects was 40-926 lbs. with a lift frequency of 1-21. Middle school subjects -lifted weight ranging from 36-811Ibs. with a lift frequency of 0.5-14. Weight lifted ranges in high school subjects was 30-585 lbs. with a lift frequency of 0.5-9. Significant difference (p < 0.05) was only found in lifting frequency between elementary and high school settings. Since lifting tasks were observed to not be appropriately distributed among subjects, an even distribution of lifts could be recommended to reduce the risk of low back injury among this population.


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