Traumatic vasospastic disease in chain-saw operators.
Raynaud's phenomenon is commonly induced in chain-saw operators by vibration; the hand guiding the tool is the more severely affected. The condition tends to persist after use of the chain-saw is stopped but compensation is rarely sought. Among 17 cases of Raynaud's phenomenon in lumberjacks the condition was found to be related to use of the chain-saw in 14, 10 of whom had to give up their work in colder weather because the disease was so disabling. Two criteria essential to establish the condition as vibration-induced Raynaud's phenomenon are the presence of symptoms for at least 2 years and a history of at least 1 year's constant use of the chain-saw. Careful physical examination and simple tests of vascular function will provide objective evidence of permanent damage by which the patients may be classified and compensated. (+info)
Permanent work incapacity, mortality and survival without work incapacity among occupations and social classes: a cohort study of ageing men in Geneva.
BACKGROUND: The objective of this retrospective cohort study was to investigate the burden of disability and death in men, from middle age to age of retirement, among occupational groups and classes in Geneva. METHODS: Men were included if they resided in the Canton of Geneva, were 45 years of age in 1970-1972, and were not receiving a disability pension at the start of the follow-up. The cohort of 5137 men was followed up for 20 years and linked to national registers of disability pension allowance and of causes of death. RESULTS: There was a steep upward trend in incidence of permanent work incapacity with lower social class for all causes as well as for the seven causes of disability studied. Compared with professional occupations (social class I), the relative risk (RR) of permanent work incapacity was 11.4 for partly skilled and unskilled occupations (class IV+V) (95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.2-28.0). The social class gradient in mortality was in the same direction as that in work incapacity although much less steep (RR class IV+V to class I = 1.6, 95% CI : 1.1-2.2). Survival without work incapacity at the time of the 65th birthday ranged from only 57% in construction workers and labourers to 89% in science and related professionals. Unemployment in Geneva was below 1.5% during almost all the study period. CONCLUSIONS: Medically-ascertained permanent work incapacity and survival without work incapacity have shown considerably greater socioeconomic differentials than the mortality differentials. (+info)
Why do short term workers have high mortality?
Increased mortality is often reported among workers in short term employment. This may indicate either a health-related selection process or the presence of different lifestyle or social conditions among short term workers. The authors studied these two aspects of short term employment among 16,404 Danish workers in the reinforced plastics industry who were hired between 1978 and 1985 and were followed to the end of 1988. Preemployment hospitalization histories for 1977-1984 were ascertained and were related to length of employment between 1978 and 1988. Workers who had been hospitalized prior to employment showed a 20% higher risk of early termination of employment than those never hospitalized (rate ratio (RR) = 1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-1.29), and the risk increased with number of hospitalizations. For workers with two or more preemployment hospitalizations related to alcohol abuse or violence, the rate ratios for short term employment were 2.30 (95% CI 1.74-3.06) and 1.86 (95% CI 1.35-2.56), respectively. An unhealthy lifestyle may also be a determinant of short term employment. While it is possible in principle to adjust for lifestyle factors if proper data are collected, the health-related selection of workers requires careful consideration when choosing a reference group for comparative studies of cumulative occupational exposure. (+info)
The psychometric properties of clinical rating scales used in multiple sclerosis.
OullII;l y Many clinical rating scales have been proposed to assess the impact of multiple sclerosis on patients, but only few have been evaluated formally for reliability, validity and responsiveness. We assessed the psychometric properties of five commonly used scales in multiple sclerosis, the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), the Scripps Neurological Rating Scale (SNRS), the Functional Independence Measure (FIM), the Ambulation Index (AI) and the Cambridge Multiple Sclerosis Basic Score (CAMBS). The score frequency distributions of all five scales were either bimodal (EDSS and AI) or severely skewed (SNRS, FIM and CAMBS). The reliability of each scale depended on the definition of 'agreement'. Inter-and intra-rater reliabilities were high when 'agreement' was considered to exist despite a difference of up to 1.0 EDSS point (two 0.5 steps), 13 SNRS points, 9 FIM points, 1 AI point and 1 point on the various CAMBS domains. The FIM, AI, and the relapse and progression domains of the CAMBS were sensitive to clinical change, but the EDSS and the SNRS were unresponsive. The validity of these scales as impairment (SNRS and EDSS) and disability (EDSS, FIM, AI and the disability domain of the CAMBS) measures was established. All scales correlated closely with other measures of handicap and quality of life. None of these scales satisfied the psychometric requirements of outcome measures completely, but each had some desirable properties. The SNRS and the EDSS were reliable and valid measures of impairment and disability, but they were unresponsive. The FIM was a reliable, valid and responsive measure of disability, but it is cumbersome to administer and has a limited content validity. The AI was a reliable and valid ambulation-related disability scale, but it was weakly responsive. The CAMBS was a reliable (all four domains) and responsive (relapse and progression domains) outcome measure, but had a limited validity (handicap domain). These psychometric properties should be considered when designing further clinical trials in multiple sclerosis. (+info)
Evaluating patients for return to work.
The family physician is often instrumental in the process of returning a patient to the workplace after injury or illness. Initially, the physician must gain an understanding of the job's demands through detailed discussions with the patient, the patient's work supervisor or the occupational medicine staff at the patient's place of employment. Other helpful sources of information include job demand analysis evaluations and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. With an adequate knowledge of job requirements and patient limitations, the physician should document specific workplace restrictions, ensuring a safe and progressive reentry to work. Occupational rehabilitation programs such as work hardening may be prescribed, if necessary. If the physician is unsure of the patient's status, a functional capacity evaluation should be considered. The family physician should also be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to the patient's "fitness" to perform the "essential tasks" of the patient's job. (+info)
Infratentorial atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging and disability in multiple sclerosis.
Loss of tissue volume in the central nervous system may provide an index of fixed neurological dysfunction in multiple sclerosis. Recent magnetic resonance studies have shown a modest relationship between clinical disability rating scores and transverse sectional area of the cervical spinal cord. To explore further the relationship between atrophy and disability in multiple sclerosis, we estimated the volumes of infratentorial structures from MRIs in a cross-sectional study of 41 patients, 21 with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and 20 with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. We used the Cavalieri method of modern design stereology with point counting to estimate the volume of brainstem, cerebellum and upper cervical spinal cord from three-dimensional MRIs acquired with an MPRAGE (Magnetization-prepared Rapid Acquisition Gradient Echo) sequence. The volume of the upper (C1-C3) cervical spinal cord was significantly correlated with a composite spinal cord score derived from the appropriate Functional Scale scores of the Expanded Disability Status Scale (r = -0.50, P < 0.01). The cerebellar (r = 0.49, P < 0.01) and brainstem (r = 0.34, P < 0.05) volumes correlated with the Scripp's Neurological Disability Rating Scale scores. The upper cervical cord volumes (r = -0.39, P < 0.01), but not the brainstem or cerebellar volumes, were significantly associated with disease duration. MRI-estimated structural volumes may provide a simple index of axonal and/or myelin loss, the presumed pathological substrates of irreversible impairment and disability in multiple sclerosis. (+info)
Views of survivors of stroke on benefits of physiotherapy.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the components of physiotherapy valued by survivors of a stroke. DESIGN: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews. SETTING: Two adjacent districts in North East Thames Regional Health Authority. PATIENTS: 82 survivors of stroke taken consecutively from a stroke register when they reached the tenth month after their stroke, 40 of whom agreed to be interviewed. MAIN MEASURES: Content analysis of interviews. RESULTS: Patients who agreed to the interview were significantly less likely to be disabled 12 months after stroke than those who did not. Twenty four patients had received physiotherapy, and these were more disabled than those who had not. Patients appreciated physiotherapy. It was believed to bring about functional improvement; the exercise component was valued because it was perceived to keep them active and busy and exercise programmes to follow at home were also valued for the structure they gave to each day; and therapists were considered a source of advice and information and a source of faith and hope. CONCLUSIONS: Many of the positive aspects of caring which patients described in the context of physiotherapy could be incorporated into the mainstream of rehabilitation care and training. However, health professionals need to be careful not to promote false expectations about recovery. IMPLICATIONS: The outcome of treatment is of critical importance to patients and should become a central dimension of patient satisfaction questionnaires. The impact of physiotherapy is not confined to reducing physical disability but may also affect wellbeing. The choice of outcome measures in rehabilitation research should reflect this situation. (+info)
SF 36 health survey questionnaire: I. Reliability in two patient based studies.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the reliability of the SF 36 health survey questionnaire in two patient populations. DESIGN: Postal questionnaire followed up, if necessary, by two reminders at two week intervals. Retest questionnaires were administered postally at two weeks in the first study and at one week in the second study. SETTING: Outpatient clinics and four training general practices in Grampian region in the north east of Scotland (study 1); a gastroenterology outpatient clinic in Aberdeen Royal Hospitals Trust (study 2). PATIENTS: 1787 patients presenting with one of four conditions: low back pain, menorrhagia, suspected peptic ulcer, and varicose veins and identified between March and June 1991 (study 1) and 573 patients attending a gastroenterology clinic in April 1993. MAIN MEASURES: Assessment of internal consistency reliability with Cronbach's alpha coefficient and of test-retest reliability with the Pearson correlation coefficient and confidence interval analysis. RESULTS: In study 1, 1317 of 1746 (75.4%) correctly identified patients entered the study and in study 2, 549 of 573 (95.8%). Both methods of assessing reliability produced similar results for most of the SF 36 scales. The most conservative estimates of reliability gave 95% confidence intervals for an individual patient's score difference ranging from -19 to 19 for the scales measuring physical functioning and general health perceptions, to -65.7 to 65.7 for the scale measuring role limitations attributable to emotional problems. In a controlled clinical trial with sample sizes of 65 patients in each group, statistically significant differences of 20 points can be detected on all eight SF 36 scales. CONCLUSIONS: All eight scales of the SF 36 questionnaire show high reliability when used to monitor health in groups of patients, and at least four scales possess adequate reliability for use in managing individual patients. Further studies are required to test the feasibility of implementing the SF 36 and other outcome measures in routine clinical practice within the health service. (+info)