It is believed that nurses risk the development of back pain as a consequence of sudden loadings during tasks in which they are handling patients. Forward dynamics simulations of sudden loads (applied to the arms) during dynamic lifting tasks were performed on a two-dimensional whole-body model. Loads were in the range of 80kg to 80 kg, with the initial load being 20 kg. Loading the arm downwards with less than that which equals a mass of 20 kg did not change the compressive forces on the spine when compared to a normal lifting motion with a 20 kg mass in the hands. However, when larger loads (40 kg to 80 kg extra in the hands) were simulated, the compressive forces exceeded 13 000 N (above 3 400 N is generally considered a risk factor). Loading upwards led to a decrease in the compressive forces but to a larger backwards velocity at the end of the movement. In the present study, it was possible to simulate a fast lifting motion. The results showed that when loading the arms downwards with a force that equals 40 kg or more, the spine was severely compressed. When loading in the opposite direction (unloading), the spine was not compressed more than during a normal lifting motion. In practical terms, this indicates that if a nursing aide tries to catch a patient who is falling, large compressive forces are applied to the spine.

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