Paraprofessionals are highly vulnerable to strains and sprains. Paraprofessionals spend hours on their feet, often bending over the work of small children at tables, desks and computer stations. They also may carry heavy supplies, books and equipment.
The problems are even more pronounced in special education settings where paraprofessionals may have to:
- Lift and handle children in wheelchairs.
- Diaper children with disabilities on the floor or on nonadjustable tables.
- Toilet children with disabilities.
- Transfer children with disabilities to and from buses.
- Cope with children whose behavior can be unpredictable and aggressive.
Several common work-related musculoskeletal conditions can be associated with the work of paraprofessionals, including:
- Chronic lower back pain
- Shoulder and neck strain
- Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons) in the arms
- Herniated disks ("slipped"disks)
- Varicose veins
- Leg and hip pains (shooting from the lower back).
Exercise provides some protection for people whose work may cause muscle strain. Walking and other aerobic exercises improve circulation to the back muscles and disks. Consider starting a "walking club" for lunchtime or after-school walks. Stretching and strength exercises also are beneficial. Consult your physician about the best exercise program for you.
HEALTHY HINTS FOR PARAPROFESSIONALS
Regular Classroom Setting
Special Education Setting
The AFT-PSRP Department can provide further information on ergonomics and preventive programs through the AFT-PSRP Occupational Safety and Health Program at (800) 238-1133, extension 5674.