Identifying Risk of Musculoskeletal Injury in Dental Hygiene Practice
Principal Investigator: Shawn Roll
Project Period: 8/15/17 – 5/15/18
Funding Source: USC Office of Undergraduate Programs – Undergraduate Research Associates Program
Anticipated Award: $4,500
Nearly 70% of dental hygienists report experiencing discomfort in their forearms/wrists/hands, and more than half of dental hygienists report developing median nerve pathology during their career. To enhance education, develop preventive training programs, and address work-related musculoskeletal disorders in dental hygienists and dental hygiene students, it is necessary to better understand the link between task exposure and pathology development. This project will engage undergraduate students in the collection, processing, and analysis of videos of dental hygiene practice through which we will examine dental scaling tasks to identify specific task components related to symptomatology and morphologic changes in dental hygiene students. The outcome of the project will be the development of an educational or preventive intervention to reduce risk due to poor postures or practices. Student-researchers involved in this project have a unique opportunity to participate in and learn about the research process; gain skills in reading research literature and learn how to discuss the overall value and quality of publications; and gain advanced knowledge related to ergonomics, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and injury prevention in the workplace through hands-on experience with observational tools used to assess injury risk in the workplace.