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Release: July 8, 2002

Iowa Spine Research Center, Chase Ergonomics develop back support

Left photo: The Iowa Spine Research Center and Chase Ergonomics helped develop the Accupressure™ Back Support. (Click on photo for enlargement.)
Right photo: David G. Wilder

The Iowa Spine Research Center (ISRC) at the University of Iowa and Chase Ergonomics Inc. of Albuquerque, N.M. have collaborated on the development of a new back support designed to reduce the risk of back injury.

The new ergonomic device, called the Accupressure™ Back Support, is designed to significantly reduce the over-contraction of back muscles during surprise events. The ISRC and Chase were co-applicants for the patent application held by the University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) and Chase. Chase has subsequently exclusively licensed UIRF's patent rights.

David G. Wilder, associate professor of biomedical engineering, occupational and environmental health, and a senior research scientist at the ISRC, began research on the back support in 1996. It was developed after Wilder and ISRC researchers found that risk of injury to back muscles caused by sudden, unexpected events could be reduced when the external pressure of a back support is applied to regions below the navel, around the lower back and pelvis.

The back support, worn with quick-release shoulder straps, features acupressure-effect pads, which direct and focus the support's pressure when the belt is tightened.

Projects like the development of the Accupressure™ Back Support, undertaken with the support of industrial collaborators, play an important role at the ISRC and across the UI campus. Scientists at the center are given the opportunity to apply the results of hard science to the design and development of spinal devices or to improving working environments, and UI students are afforded exposure to "real world" projects.

The controversies about the effectiveness of back supports convinced Chase executives that anecdotal evidence had to be replaced by systematic, impartial scientific research. Companies tracking back injury reports were noting reductions of injuries when employees wore back supports consistently and correctly, but didn't know why.

"We weren't certain exactly what the biomechanical effect of the support was, and we needed that information," explains company CEO David Chase. "The University of Iowa's Spine Research Center had the people and environment to design and conduct the research we needed."

For more information, see or call Chase Ergonomics at 1-800-621-5436.