News>Feature - Physical Therapy: Before the Injury
Staff Sgt. Keefer Neal, 65th Communications Squadron Postal Clerk stocks the shelves with packages after they are unloaded from the truck at the Lajes Field Post Office on Oct. 23, 2012.The Post Office handles an average of 800 packages a week. The Physical Therapy office ensures postal clerks have perfect technique to limit the amount of work related injuries.
Capt. Brandon Morgan and Tech Sgt. Gilbert Gutierrez, 65th Medical Operations Squadron, physical therapy flight, pose with their demo skeleton used during their work center visits. Your physical therapy team is conducting work center safety visits in order to minimize the amount of work related injuries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)
by Staff Sgt Erica Horner
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
10/24/2012 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- The 65th Physical Therapy Flight at Lajes Field spends their day assessing and aiding injured Airmen. They treat anything from simple hazards to training injuries that occur throughout the day. But now, instead of treating patients after they are injured, physical therapists are heading to work centers to prevent common injuries before they occur.
Capt. Brandon Morgan, 65th Medical Operations Squadron Physical Therapy Flight commander, has teamed with the Health and Wellness Center to create a program designed to prevent work-related injuries. He hopes to implement this program base-wide.
"In a lot of places, physical therapy is focused on rehab and they don't get as much time to do prevention. But here, with our relationship with the HAWC, we are able to pull our expertise together to come up with good prevention programs," said Morgan. "I see people after their injury and I want to prevent it from coming back. So, when I'm evaluating their work spaces, I can see why they're hurt and show them how to change things."
One of the new programs -the shop visit program - is aimed at reducing on-the-job injuries.
"We go into different work sections, conduct some observations, perform the work that they do and see what challenges they face, so we can create a plan for their particular job," said Morgan. He got the idea for the program after volunteering at the Lajes Field Post Office.
"We were treating a lot of postal employees for back injuries and that caught the attention of public health," said Morgan. "When I volunteered, I saw a lot of things that could be fixed on the spot. I developed a plan and returned to the post office to conduct job specific training."
Master Sgt. Michael Huston, 65th Communications Squadron Post Office postmaster, has seen firsthand how prevention training maximizes work center performance.
"During the training, [Morgan] brought in a demo skeleton and showed us how our motions affected our backs," said Huston. Huston reported that prior to the training 15 out of 23 employees at the post office had sought medical attention for back issues. "Since the training, there has only been one injury that required a visit to the clinic."
Morgan says that the best way for him to give advice is to see what the Airmen are doing and by participating in their work.
"We're not going to just visit once, we understand that there's different functions in each squadron, such as the communications squadron; some sit at a computer, but others climb up antennas," said Morgan. "We want to spend an hour or so in their work centers, develop a plan and then come back a few weeks later for training."
Not only does this program minimize Airmen visits to physical therapy, it also reduces the number of safety incidents.
"The shop visit program is an excellent program," said Tech. Sgt. Antonio Williams, 65th Air Base Wing Safety NCOIC. "They're helping ergonomics which also prevents safety mishaps."
Morgan's goal is to allow Airmen to spend more time in their work centers.
"The more time Airmen spend in physical therapy, the less time they spend at work, so it decreases their mission effectiveness," said Morgan. "We want our Airmen to be mission ready."
If you would like to hold an in-shop visit in your work center, email or call Captain Brandon Morgan at 535-6286.