Navigation Links
Backs bear a heavy burden
Date:2/21/2013

Trudging from place to place with heavy weights on our backs is an everyday reality, from schoolchildren toting textbooks in backpacks to firefighters and soldiers carrying occupational gear. Muscle and skeletal damage are very real concerns. Now Tel Aviv University researchers say that nerve damage, specifically to the nerves that travel through the neck and shoulders to animate our hands and fingers, is also a serious risk.

Prof. Amit Gefen of TAU's Department of Biomedical Engineering and Prof. Yoram Epstein of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, along with PhD student Amir Hadid and Dr. Nogah Shabshin of the Imaging Institute of the Assuta Medical Center, have determined that the pressure of heavy loads carried on the back have the potential to damage the soft tissues of the shoulder, causing microstructural damage to the nerves.

The result could be anything from simple irritation to diminished nerve capacity, ultimately limiting the muscles' ability to respond to the brain's signals, inhibiting movement of the hand and the dexterity of the fingers. In practice, this could impact functionality, reducing a worker's ability to operate machinery, compromise a soldiers' shooting response time, or limiting a child's writing or drawing capacity.

The research was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology and partially supported by a grant from TAU's Nicholas and Elizabeth Slezak Super Center for Cardiac Research and Biomedical Engineering.

Modeling impaired nerve function

Focusing their study on combat units in which soldiers must carry heavy backpacks, the researchers discovered that, in addition to complaining of discomfort or pain in their shoulders, soldiers also reported tickling sensations or numbness in the fingers.

Exploring this issue in a non-invasive manner, they used biomechanical analysis methods originally developed for investigating chronic wounds. The analyses show how mechanical loads, defined as the amount of force or deformation placed on a particular area of the body, were transferred beneath the skin to cause damage to tissue and internal organs.

Based on data collected by MRI, Profs. Gefen and Epstein developed anatomical computer models of the shoulders. These showed how pressure generated by the weight of a backpack load is distributed beneath the skin and transferred to the brachial plexus nerves. The models also account for mechanical properties, such as the stiffness of shoulder tissues and the location of blood vessels and nerves in the sensitive areas which are prone to damage.

Extensive mechanical loading was seen to have a high physiological impact. "The backpack load applies tension to these nerves," explains Prof. Gefen. He notes that the resulting damage "leads to a reduction in the conduction velocity that is, the speed by which electrical signals are transferred through the nerves." With a delay or reduction in the amplitude or the intensity of signals, nerve communication cannot properly function, he says.

A danger to adults and children

These results apply to people from all walks of life, says Prof. Gefen. Many professions and leisure activities, such as hiking or travelling, involve carrying heavy equipment on the back. The researchers plan to extend this study in two directions: first, to study the effects of load on nerve conductivity, and second, to examine the impact of these heavy loads on a child's anatomy.

School bags are a major concern, he warns. It cannot be assumed that children's bodies react to shoulder stress in exactly the same way as adults. Differences in physiology could lead to different consequences, tolerance, and damage levels.


'/>"/>

Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. U.S. Task Force Backs HIV Screening for All 15 to 65
2. Human Intellect Backsliding From Lack of Evolutionary Pressure: Study
3. Mastering weight-maintenance skills before embarking on diet helps women avoid backsliding
4. U.S. Appeals Court Backs Ruling Against Graphic Images on Cigarette Packs
5. Supreme Court Backs Much of Controversial Health Reform Law
6. FDA Panel Backs At-Home HIV Test
7. American Indians at Heightened Risk for Suicide After Heavy Drinking
8. Study: Lungs From Heavy Smokers OK for Transplant
9. Smoking Still Takes a Heavy Toll in U.S., CDC Finds
10. Are some patients too heavy for a new kidney?
11. Heavy Smoking May Raise Odds for Lethal Bladder Cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 due to a possible lice infestation, as reported ... head lice: the parasite’s ability to live away from a human host, and to infest ... in the event that lice have simply gotten out of control. , As lice are ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, ... Bronze Wellness at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in ... the 7th annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her ... would lash out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he ... he would use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Topical BioMedics, Inc, makers of Topricin and ... that call for a minimum wage raise to $12 an hour by 2020 and then ... will restore the lost value of the minimum wage, assure the wage floor does not ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... feeding the Frederick area economy by obtaining investment capital for emerging technology companies. ... 2½ years that have already resulted in more than a million dollars of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... BOGOTA, Colombia , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma Colombia ... the company,s second affiliate in Latin America . ... ... Farma Colombia ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MEDIA, Pa. , June 23, 2016 ... treatments in an outpatient dialysis facility.  Treatments are usually ... to 6 hours per visit, including travel time, equipment ... on a patient, but especially grueling for patients who ... residents of a skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers for ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 The Biotechnology ... continues to present great opportunities to investors. Stock-Callers.com assesses ... Intrexon Corp. (NYSE: XON ), Vertex Pharmaceuticals ... (NASDAQ: ARNA ), and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. ... stocks and receive your complimentary trade alerts at: ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: