For workers who spend long periods of time behind the wheel of a vehicle, persistent lower back problem can be a very serious issue. Could modified car seats offer a solution?

Many occupations involve driving for prolonged periods of time – think of taxi drivers, truck drivers, construction equipment operators,regional nurses or couriers.

It is known that this group of workers at high risk of experiencing lower back pain, which can cause great mental and physical discomfort, costs our health care system $1 billion annually, and can cost employers more in lost work time.

Associate Professor Terry Haines from Monash's Department of Physiotherapy is leading a research team to assess whether modified car seats could hold the answer to reducing the current rates of lower back pain amongst this group.

His team will assess the lumbar spine posture of 25 people with lower back pain who drive a car for more than two hours per day as part of their occupation.

They will measure the pain levels, lumbar spine posture and muscle activity that these workers experience in modified car seats compared to their usual car seats.

The objective of this research is to assess the effectiveness of these modified car seats, in the hope of confirming that they can be used to reduce driver-related lower back pain.

Where to now?

This research is ongoing.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in learning about other methods for combating back pain,please have a look at ISCRR's recent Clinical Effectiveness Review of beds and mattresses.