It’s National Pain Week, so I thought it was a good time to share the story of Preventure and why I turned my attention from elite athletes to blue-collar workers.
Injury prevention has been a focus of my career since the day I graduated from Physiotherapy. At the time, sports injury prevention provided the most exciting opportunity, and I was lucky enough to spend time at the Australian Institute of Sport and various professional sports clubs.
My days consisted of using cutting-edge wearable technology to measure movement and physical capacity, then analysing the data to identify and address injury risks. Enabling athletes to train, compete, and fulfill their full potential was incredibly rewarding.
I was 15 years down that path when an incident occurred which completely changed my perspective, and ultimately, the course of my career.
My mother, in her early 60’s, was close to retiring from a nursing career that she had thoroughly enjoyed. It was a typical workday, and Mum was helping to lift and move a patient, something she had done countless times before. But on this particular day, she was in an awkward position and felt a sudden, severe pain in her lower back.
Unfortunately, as the story goes for many workers, this incident marked the start of a long journey of pain and dysfunction, and in Mum’s case, it resulted in surgery to fuse seven levels of her spine.
I still remember the day she called me to tell me she had hurt her back. She told me that she was lifting in a position that was “not the best”, and knew she should have asked another nurse for assistance. However, she reasoned, it was the way she had always lifted patients and it was easier to just get it done than ask for assistance. When I asked if her employer had put anything in place to prevent this injury from happening, she thought for a second and then said “Yes, there was a safe lifting manual that I read when I first started.”*
I was shocked. I knew my mother’s injury was avoidable. Here I was, focused on incremental improvements for athletic performance using the latest developments in science and technology, whilst my mother had been exposed to huge and obvious risks.
Her injury resulted in early retirement from her nursing career, and on-going, daily pain. For the first time, I was exposed to the staggering physical, mental and emotional impact that workplace injury can have on the lives of workers and their families. I knew that if she had the technology, education, and injury prevention methodology that we used in sport, her injury could have been prevented. I also wondered how many other avoidable workplace injuries have impacted the lives of workers, and how easy it would be to prevent these injuries…
That wondering kicked off my five-year journey to level the playing field between elite sports science, and workplace injury prevention — Preventure was born.
The idea to transition Sports Science to the workplace became a reality thanks to the support of AusIndustry (the federal Department of Innovation, Industry, and Science) and Angel Investors who understood the social impact potential.
Our team has now developed a SaaS platform (with connected wearable hardware) to measure the movement of workers, identify injury risk, and alert them in real-time. Companies that work with us are adopting a whole new approach to manual handling training and we are successfully reducing reliance on paper manuals — and the dreaded Powerpoint presentation.
We’ve come a long way, and are proud to know that workers across 10 different industries have used our technology to help prevent a life-changing injury. But we also have a long way to go.
We need help to spread the word about our remote service offering that is allowing employers to use our technology safely while complying with #Covid19 social distancing restrictions. So if you know of any companies that could use our cost-effective platform to uncover muscle stressing risks, and change the way that workers think about injury prevention — please share this article.
We are also looking for Allied Health Professionals, Risk, Insurance, and Safety Consultants that would like to partner with us. If that’s you, and you would like to have a new and innovative technology product in your tool belt, say hi (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Remember, an estimated 1 in 5 of us suffer from Chronic Pain. It’s a very hidden problem and many carry the burden alone. Educate yourself this week by searching the #NPW2020 hashtag on your preferred social channel.
*Free Resource: Safe Lifting Webinar Recording