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Brick by brick, students help build the case in back pain science study

25th February 2015

Barking & Dagenham College brickwork students and tutors took part in a research study with a team from Imperial College London recently, investigating how the body?s muscles, bones and joints respond to the movements made in physically challenging jobs.

The brickwork team relocated to the College’s Gazelle Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths Centre for the one-day scientific study. Aida Ismail, who is studying for a PhD in Bioengineering at Imperial College under the supervision of Prof Anthony Bull and Dr Angela Kedgley, applied reflective markers to the students’ arms and torsos to track the movements of the bricklayers’ shoulders and backs, so they could be analysed through a specialist computer programme.

Aida said of the research:

“We invited both students and tutors to take part so that we could monitor the differences in movement. The more experienced professionals may have adapted their movements to lessen the stress on the body.”

Tony Carruthers, the College’s Curriculum Manager for Building Crafts and a member of the Guild of Bricklayers, added:

“The lower back problems experienced by those in the construction trade are well documented but this research is also looking at the impact on the upper back and shoulders. Learning to warm up their muscles before they start work and to bend and stretch in the right way is an essential part of our students’ training. It’s been an interesting opportunity for them to work with the Imperial College team – who knows, the data collected here today may benefit these students in the years to come.”

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