Training Caregivers to Prevent Back Injuries Using Biofeedback

Megan Kamachi (1,2), Mohammad Owlia (2), Tilak Dutta (1, 2)

1: Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

2: KITE, Toronto Rehab Institute - UHN

Back injuries caused by poor postures are very common among home caregivers. Real-time biofeedback may be helpful for training caregivers to use safer patterns of movement. Twenty novice caregivers repeated a series of simulated care tasks to investigate the effectiveness of biofeedback in decreasing time spent in end-of-range spine flexion. Participants in the intervention group (n=10) received real-time auditory biofeedback when their forward spine flexion exceeded a threshold during training trials, while participants in the control group (n=10) did not. All participants returned after two weeks to repeat the care tasks and perform a new skill transfer task (sling insertion). The intervention group maintained decreased end-of-range (80th and 95th percentile) spine flexion after two weeks during care tasks compared to controls, but there was no difference between groups with the new skill transfer task. Biofeedback has good potential for reducing spine flexion but training does not transfer to new tasks.