Supporting our Echocardiographers to minimise the symptoms of RSI
As practising Echocardiographers, the XEC Diagnostics leadership team understand the importance of ensuring our workforce is supported to minimise their risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Agency Echocardiographers make up ~10% of the UK workforce, so we recognise how important your well-being is to reducing the current backlog. We have added the question ‘Are you a left- or right-handed scanner’ to our Induction checklist; ensuring our clients are informed and work environments configured to individual needs. We have induction calls with all Echocardiographers before a new assignment, so you have all the information needed before your first clinical shift in a new department.
Our permanent Echocardiographers also benefit from Occupational Health guidance and workstation assessments, so we can provide additional tools to prevent injury and strain.
Repetitive motions occur when sonographers perform the same type of examinations throughout the working day, this is prevalent among sonographers performing high-risk obstetrical ultrasound exams and cardiac sonographers / Echocardiographers. The lack of variety in these examinations forces the sonographers to use the same muscle activities all day without enough recovery time.
The everyday practice of Echocardiography can consist of the RSI risk factors of high repetition, high levels of force, awkward joint position, direct pressure, and prolonged twisted posture. For example:
- Gripping the transducer
- Applying sustained pressure
- Awkward scanning positions
- Scanning with a flexed or hyperextended wrist
- Maintaining a twisted posture
- Shoulder abduction
- Sustained and repetitive twisting of the neck/trunk
- Frequent leaning over the patient
- Frequent over-stretching of the arms between the patient and the control panel
The best treatment approach to musculoskeletal pain in Echocardiographers is prevention. It is important for every Echocardiographer to become familiar with the principles of ergonomics and attempt to minimise musculoskeletal health hazards.
- Awareness and observation of body positioning and posture.
- Understanding how equipment height and positioning can be optimised.
- Knowledge of patient placement to reduce arm abduction.
- Be aware of your comfort level in your current position.
- Keep your scanning arm as close as possible to your body.
- Vary scanning positions.
- Maintain a steady work pace and take frequent rest breaks.
It is recommended to introduce some short breaks into your routine, such as:
- a mini-break might consist of removing the probe from the scanning hand and then stretching the hand, arm, and shoulder;
- taking a break of a few seconds, possibly every 5 or 10 minutes, to stretch the muscles involved;
- specific exercise programs designed to counter the effects of sustained and repetitive motion injuries encountered in the workplace.
Consider the ergonomic design of your work area:
- Can you raise or lower the scanning couch to be more comfortable?
- Is there a scanning chair or stool available to support your back?
- Are there cable hooks or Easi-clips to support the weight of the transducer cable?
- Can you move the Control Panel closer to you to prevent reaching?
- Can you position the monitor and control panel to prevent twisting your neck and spine?
Do you want to join our team of award-winning echocardiographers? Click here to find out more about the roles we have available.
- RSI Tips. (n.d). RSI Tips [online] Available at: https://www.rsitips.com/
- Colebourn, C. 2023. BSE: Since we last met… (2019( [PowerPoint presentation}. BSEcho 2022, 14 October, London.