Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Ergonomic Solutions for Employment
Employees with and without disabilities
Study purpose or goal:
To assess the ability of the individual to perform a set of job related tasks
Who administers this tool?:
Medical professionals in a work setting
Medical equipment may be required for higher level assessments.
Are any approvals required?:
How is it administered?:
Each of the four levels of the assessment are used with a person with a disability (back pain, upper extremity, spinal dysfunction) performing job tasks.
What is the scope or what areas does it cover?:
This tool is a hierarchy of assessments in four levels that record the job performance/ability of people with disabilities. It progresses from simple worker questionnaires, to information an allied health professional such as a plant nurse might reasonably obtain, to information obtained by a specialist with appropriate diagnostic testing, to a half-day multidisciplinary team assessment.
Researchers studied and adapted four different protocols—the Spine Team Assessment (STA, referred to in the initial application as the Quantified Functional Assessment) for persons with back or neck pain disability of more than 3 months, the UPPER assessment for persons with complex arm related disability, the Quick program for persons with other severe neurologic or orthopedic disability, and the Spine Team Assessment – Senior for older persons with back pain disability. All three protocols were evaluated on injured workers and used to determine the type of ergonomic/engineering accommodations needed, as well as the timing and barriers to success. Researchers also developed schema for assessing less severe, chronic, or complex disability in order to provide scalability of assessments related to model development in the core projects and the rest of the RERC.
The assessments were analyzed by focus groups including consumers, VR specialists, medical specialists. Each assessment was modified after test implementations.
Can this tool be used for other purposes/populations?:
The assessment could be used to identify gaps and accommodations for other physical disabilities. It can also be applied to workers without disabilities to assess and analyze the ability to perform job related tasks.
An extensive database of job descriptions with detailed information on the physical aspects of job performance evolved out of the data gathered and analyzed. Researchers discovered that implementation is dependent on the worker and employer.
Impact of these findings on the field:
Application of this data will lead to better accommodation of employees with musculoskeletal disorders in widely varied fields. It could identify gaps and potentially open the pool of jobs available to people with physical disabilities. It could lead to reduction in development of musculoskeletal disorders.
Peer review status:
These tools have been subject to peer review in the publication of several dissertations, journal articles, and conference presentations. Contact project staff for more information.
Who uses the collected data?:
Employers and vocational counselors assessing the work environment and the potential for employees with physical disabilities.