Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Back Injuries -- prevention & control; Health Personnel; Muscles -- physiology; Patient Transfer


Purpose: Back injuries are a common problem in providing health care and manually transferring patients can be a cause of back injuries. Because of this fact, there has been a need for research looking into safe methods for manually transferring patients. The intent of this study was to compare muscle recruitment patterns of novice and experienced health care professionals during a simulated patient transfer. By comparing the muscle activity of the experienced group to that of the novice group, we hoped to see differences that could be used to refine training techniques, thus increasing the safety of novice health care professionals during patient transfers.

Subjects: The experienced group consisted of nine physical therapists/physical therapy instructors and one occupational therapist. The novice group consisted of thirteen firstyear students in the UND physical therapy program.

Instrumentation: Electromyographical (EMG) and electrogoniometric data was recorded using a waist belt enclosed Noraxon Telemyo 8 telemetry unit. The signals were collected by the equipment's receiver and then digitized by an analog digital interface board in the Peak Analog Module.

Procedure: All participants were shown the electrode placement and signed an informed consent form. Electrodes were placed over the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, and semitendinosis muscles bilaterally. After a five-repetition maximal lift was determined, the participant performed three trials of transferring a milk crate containing eighty percent of their five-repetition maximal lift weight. All of the lifts were done in a timed sequence with a short break between each trial.

Data Analysis: The EMG data collected was analyzed using SPSS 11.0 for Windows. A 2-Factor ANVOA (a = 0.05) was used to compare muscle activity in the Novice and Expert groups. The data was separated into three sections: Rising, Turning, and Descending; as well as by muscle group. Data from the three transfers were averaged for each participant before comparison.

Results: No significant interaction was found between the groups and their muscle activation for any phase of the transfer; however if separated, significant differences were found between the groups themselves as well as between their muscle activation. The only significance found was that the right semitendonosis was used more in the expert group than the novice group during the ascending and descending phases of the transfer (p=.043).

Conclusion and Clinical Implication: It has been shown in previous research that most injuries occur when the therapist has limited experience. Our data shows that there are differences between the groups and between the muscles that this study was not able to identify. The researchers suspect that the main reason for the inability to identify the specific differences was due to the limited sample size. This suggests that further research is needed to identify specific differences that make more experienced patient handlers less likely to sustain an injury while transferring a patient.