Device Spots potential back pain

PHYSIOTHERAPY researchers in Australia have developed a device that can predict the probability of back pain in humans.

Many devices can measure spinal muscle functions, such as strength and endurance, but the Australian device called the Pressure Biofeedback Unit (PBU), can calculate the supportive capacity of muscles that protect the human spine. The Australian Science and Technology Newsletter reports the device can be used also to check the ability of neck and shoulder muscles to support associated joints.

The PBU uses a pressure sensor in the form of an air bag that is inflated to fit any surface of the body. When uncontrolled movement occurs, as when the patient is gently exercised, it registers on a hand-held gange the change in pressure inside the bag. Steady pressure indicates all is well, when it is unsteady, it means the muscles are unable to control and support the lumbar joints.

Carolyn Richardson and Gwen Jull of the University of Queensland say they believe the identification of muscle instability could play an important role, in developing back pain treatment. The PBU, available for US$ 85, is being used widely by physiotherapists in Australia.