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LumboTrain in preventive occupational health Renewable back energy

Issue 01/2018

The initial reactions from staff were unequivocal: “A fantastic initiative – more please!” 80 LumboTrain-wearing employees of the Niederrhein Energie und Wasser (NEW) AG utility company in Mönchengladbach, Germany, are only too pleased to “back” the initiative conducted in partnership with Bauerfeind to combat musculoskeletal disorders.

Ellen Basner has no regrets. On the contrary, she was delighted with the initiative: “It was a convincing proposal and the initial results certainly validate our decision.” Standing in the bus workshop of Niederrhein Energie und Wasser (NEW) AG in Mönchengladbach, this busy lady with her short haircut is quite clearly happy. The two men in boiler suits standing next to the Head of Occupational Health Management at NEW know exactly what she is referring to. After all , they are both wearing the “proposal” underneath their work clothes. Stefan Passow and René Halcour are two of the first wave of 80 employees in the workshop and mechanic section whose backs are being bolstered by the LumboTrain active support during their everyday work.

Musculoskeletal disorders at the forefront

As Stefan Passow and René Halcour know only too well , musculoskeletal disorders in general and back problems in particular are continuously on the rise in branches of industry where a variety of tasks are undertaken. According to the BKK health insurance company’s report , musculoskeletal disorders were the number one reason for sick leave in 2016, accounting for 25.2% of the sick leave days taken by its policy holders. Measured by the frequency of occurrence, the figure is 16.4 cases per 100 policy holders, putting musculoskeletal disorders in second place after respiratory diseases. And in the musculoskeletal group, the “back” accounts for the largest percentage. For Ellen Basner, this was reason enough to initiate action for backs and give Bauerfeind’s “convincing proposal” a go.

LumboTrain as a mark of the company’s appreciation

The Head of Occupational Health Management at NEW first came into contact with Bauerfeind during an in-house voluntary health check for employees. This involved a package of measures, such as foot and venous pressure measurements, and a back analysis. Bauerfeind performs such occupational health management measures as an external service provider, usually in conjunction with its regional quality partners. After this positive experience, it was an obvious next step for Ellen Basner to seriously consider offering staff treatment with a LumboTrain support. After consultation with the internal occupational health management steering committee and the executive management , the decision to proceed was taken quickly. It was decided that a select pilot group of people would wear the back-relief support at work for a period of six weeks, following detailed discussions with the relevant managers and a consultation with a physician if required. The individuals involved were asked to record their experiences of using the support in a personal diary. After the six-week period, the aid would be the wearer’s to keep. “We put a lot of thought into the selection process, because we didn’t want to take a scattergun approach,” Ellen Basner is keen to emphasize.
“At the end of the day, it was a voluntary decision to take part.” For Stefan Passow and René Halcour, it was an easy choice to make. “As well as liking its pleasant supportive effect , I also felt that the support was a mark of the company’s appreciation of the workshop staff,” Stefan Passow explains. René Halcour is also delighted: “I’ve had experience of other back supports which were more of a hindrance than a help. In this case, the opposite is true.” The electronics technician pulls up his jacket to show a glimpse of titanium and blue.

LumboTrain promotes the natural healing process

Anspruchsvoller Arbeitsplatz: Stefan Passow bei der Inspektion eines NEW-Busses.
Anspruchsvoller Arbeitsplatz: Stefan Passow bei der Inspektion eines NEW-Busses.

The LumboTrain active support gently straightens and relieves the lumbar spine. With every movement , the compression knit and a massage pad help to reduce tension in the lumbar spine region and relieve pain. The support also activates the stabilizing trunk muscles. Regardless of whether the problem is lumbago or low back pain, those affected find that the LumboTrain is like a helping hand for the back that restores stability – and all without any need for drugs. René Halcour can vouch for this: “I used to get pain sometimes and had to take medication to ease it. Since I’ve been wearing the LumboTrain, I haven’t had any pain.” Data on the efficacy of the LumboTrain in treating non-specific, acute, and usually lumbar back pain is provided by a number of studies, including those conducted by PD Dr. med. Christoph Anders at Jena University Hospital,Germany, and his team1. His conclusion? “The support can be understood as providing passive stabilization and a simultaneous stimulating effect on the back muscles. This combination of effects promotes and thereby shortens the natural healing process.”

Prevention instead of intervention

This shortening of the process is no doubt welcome news to Ellen Basner in the occupational health sector, especially where the sick leave figures are concerned. After all , many Bauerfeind products such as the LumboTrain are suitable not only for the more typical areas of use, but also as a means of providing physical support in a strenuous working environment. Here, the therapeutic aspect takes a back seat and it is health prevention, an area of ever-growing importance to businesses, that takes priority. “We also want to offer our employees in the other divisions occupational health management measures for effective prevention,” Ellen Basner states. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.” It’s also no mean feat , given that there are some 2,000 employees at NEW AG, which also operates regional local transport from its headquarters in Mönchengladbach. But thanks to the new energy that many of the company’s employees are now experiencing in their backs, selecting a product to supply to each individual shouldn’t be too difficult.

1 Bauerfeind life 2/2014: Anders, C. et al.: Prospective study of the trunk musculature under the influence of compressive lumbar supports; Bauerfeind life 2/2016: Anders, C. et al.: Prospective study of the trunk musculature under the influence of compressive lumbar supports in patients with acute lumbar back pain.

Images: Michael Bause