Grant Application

William Gille, WorkPartners

Proposed Innovation

Health care workers are at high risk of developing back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries. Nurses in particular are susceptible to injuries from exerting excessive physical effort, bending, twisting, lifting, and making repetitive motions. In 2018, musculoskeletal injuries to UPMC frontline nursing staff resulted in more than $1.6 million in workers compensation and 7,700 lost or restricted duty workdays.

This innovative project aims to explore the use of haptic feedback (vibration alert) in a wearable device to alert nurses of risky biomechanical movements. Using a wearable device to capture biomechanical movements of nurses in a clinical setting is an area that has been untested.

Improvements in Action

Using haptic technology — a common feature in cellular devices — the wearable device will collect baseline data to determine the ergonomic behavior of nurses and nursing assistants. Researchers will then apply haptic feedback to alert those wearing the device when they use improper body mechanics.

Intended Outcomes

The overall goal is to determine if haptic feedback triggered by at-risk movements can be used to create self-awareness resulting in sustained modified behavior that reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. If successful in modifying behavior, use of the wearable device will be expanded system-wide for training, onboarding, and prevention aimed at teaching nurses proper body mechanics.