Dunleavy receives outstanding poster presentation from IFOMPT

Clam worker in a wet suit bending over while working with clams in Cedar Key

In early April, Kim Dunleavy, PhD, PT, OCS, FNAP, Clinical Professor and Director of Community Engagement in the UF Doctor of Physical Therapy program, received the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) outstanding poster presentation award presented at the virtual World Physiotherapy Congress. Dr. Dunleavy presented the poster on the pilot research study funded through the Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety:  “Chronic low back pain in seafood workers: effectiveness of participatory ergonomic self-management strategies,” in April 2021.

Dr. Dunleavy was one out of 38 physiotherapists from 20 countries/territories who received awards recognizing their outstanding abstracts and presentations.

To reduce workplace-related pain, participatory ergonomics offers workers a flexible and practical option to create individualized context-specific interventions. There is limited information on the management of low back pain in physically demanding occupations such as agricultural and seafood workers who continue to work despite pain. This study was built from surveillance research conducted by Dr. Andrew Kane, where chronic low back pain was identified as a major problem in the clam aquaculture industry in the Cedar Key area. 

Dr. Dunleavy was the PI of this NIOSH-funded study with co-authors Andrew Kane, PhD, Ashleigh Coffman, SPT, Jacob Reidy, PT, DPT, and Mark Bishop, PT, PhD, FAPTA, UF DPT Program Director. The study examined the effectiveness of self-management work strategies using participatory ergonomic approaches for seafood workers with chronic LBP on self-reported function and pain along with pain-related cognitive and affective factors. Ashleigh Coffman, UF DPT class of 2022, and Jacob Reidy, ’20, both assisted with data collection, organization, and interventions while Dr. Bishop assisted with statistical analysis.

The participatory approach was effective for improving pain-related disability, pain with work tasks, pain anxiety and pain coping among the clam workers participating in the study. The study concluded that the self-management strategies introduced to the seafood workers may be valuable for small work teams with time constraints in rural communities.

Amazing work, Dr. Dunleavy. Congratulations!