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Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders among FL Physical Therapists

Title Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders among FL Physical Therapists
Principal Investigators
Dennis Brunt, EdD
Dr. Denis Brunt
Edgar Vieira, PhD
Dr. Edgar Vieira
Co-Investigators Lisa Roberts, DPT
Colleen St. Prix, MHSA

Physical therapists (PTs) perform tasks that can lead to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). WMSD in PTs are a significant problem. For example, the 12-month prevalence of low back WMSD in PTs varies from 45% to 63%. Approximately half of all PTs experience musculoskeletal pain within the initial 5 years of practice. WMSD symptoms can cause PTs to miss work, change areas of practice or even leave the profession completely. However, the prevalence, severity, and characteristics of WMSD among PTs in the US are not known. In addition, the tasks and specialties that are related with WMSD affecting different body parts among American PTs have not been established. Determining these factors is the first step to reduce WMSD in PTs. Therefore, as an initial step, the objective of this study is to survey Florida PTs to evaluate the prevalence, severity and characteristics of WMSD symptoms among PTs with different levels of experience, practicing in different specialty areas and settings. After this study, we may expand the survey to the national level through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Florida PTs will be invited to complete an online self-administered survey created based on WMSD surveys previously conducted with PTs. The survey is available at:  and takes less than 30 minutes to complete. The survey advertisement, information and link will be included in the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA) weekly newsletter as suggested by FPTA staff. The demographics and prevalence of WMSD symptoms among the respondents will be calculated. Potential trends by age, gender, race, level of physical activity, experience level, specialty area, and practice settings will be evaluated. The WMSD symptoms and their severity will be categorized by body part. Conducting a survey with Florida PTs may provide a better understanding of the WMSD issues in this occupational group. Knowing the extent and characteristics of this problem will permit better understanding, raise awareness, and assist in the design of educational and prevention programs.

Funded by a grant from Florida Physical Therapist Association