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Potential wrist ligament injury in rescuers performing CPR given the nature of EMS work, it is not surprising that
musculoskeletal injuries are the leading cause of reported morbidity. Occupationally induced musculoskeletal injuries are
an inherent hazard of the EMS profession. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation for treatment of persons in cardiac arrest involves the
administration of external chest compressions. Compressions are administered by placing the heel of one hand in the middle of
the victim?s chest, then placing the other hand on top of the first, interlacing the fingers. The rescuer must compress the chest of
an adult about 1-1/2 to 2 inches (4-5 cm), with recent studies indicating that compressions of greater than two inches increased
Wrist pain in rescuers performing chest compressions as part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation has been reported anecdotally
and recently in the literature. Studies have indicated that rescuers apply as much as 644 N of force to the victim?s chest with each
compression, while standards require one hundred compressions per minute.
Recent research suggests that forces transmitted through the rescuers? wrists of less than 10% of those seen during the
performance of chest compressions significantly strains the scapholunate ligament.
The combination of this evidence suggests that chest compressions as performed during CPR may cause damage to the
scapholunate ligament of the rescuers? wrist.
Biomechanical research should be performed to further evaluate this possible correlation.
Robert Curran earned his Doctor of Chiropractic from the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic and BA in The History and Philosophy of
Science from the University of Pittsburgh. He has over twenty years of experience in emergency medical services, has authored ten peer reviewed
articles and presented research on CPR at conferences including the American College of Sports Medicine and EMS Today.
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