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Home Forums General Ergonomics Topics Shoulder Strain from Handheld Medical Laser Device

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    Hi there,

    I'm looking for somebody to point me in the right direction.

    The setup in question is a hand-held medical device. It's the head of a laser system used for skin treatments. It weighs only about a pound or so and has a wire extending off it to the laser unit. The treatments often last well over an hour where the operator must move the laser head over the patient's body while they lay on a medical bed (like a dentist chair). This results in long periods for the operator with thier arm extended, bearing the weight of their arm, plus that of the laser head. Several of the operators have been getting shoulder strain (one quite serious).

    We've had a couple ergonomicists come by, and they have identified the problem that was suspected, that there needs to be less weight borne by the extended arm of the operator. Unfortunately, the people brought in were only able to offer assessment of the problem and not a solution. (Actually one suggested tying an elastic theraband from the ceiling and putting the operator's wrist through it. Obviously not an acceptable solution!).

    I'm looking for suggestions for implementation of a solution. A tool armature that bears the weight of the tool and maybe the operator's arm? An arm-rest for the elbow/forearm?

    Ideally I'd like a solution I can go out and implement right away, unfortunately, I'm having trouble finding somebody who can actually fix the problem in the Vancouver, BC area.

    Any help would be much appreciated!


    [email protected]


    The problems you describe sound like they might be very similar to those experienced by sonographers while using ultrasound equipment. I know there has been a lot of discussion and work by others on that topic, so you might want to search that topic and see if any ideas arise.


    Peter Budnick, PhD, CPE
    Ergoweb Inc.


    [private user]

    Sounds Ergonomics web site has the arm lift for sonographers that may help you.  They also show how to use arm bolsters to support your arm so this may help. 


    [private user]

    I haven't tried it but the equipoise X-Ar looks like it might be an interesting option as far as an armature that bears the weight of the operator's arm and tool.


    [private user]

    Hello.  The issue you describe is indeed very similar to that experienced by ultrasound professionals.  I am an ultrasound technologists with graduate work in public health and certificate coursework in ergonomics.  My consulting partner, Joan Baker & I working in conjuction with 2 physicians, have developed and manufacture an arm support device — the Shoulder Assist, which should address this issue for you.  Please go to our website, http://www.soundergonomics.com and view this device.  We offer virtual demos whereby we can demonstrate the use of this device "live" from our warehouse and can answer any questions you might have.  Feel free to contact me for more information at [email protected].


    Carolyn T. Coffin, MPH, RDMS, RVT, RDCS, BCOE

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