Active Research Projects

The effect of lumbar spine position on back extensor torque and trunk muscle activation in healthy individuals and people with chronic low back pain.

Mawston, Boocock, Holder
Funding: NZ Society Physiotherapists
The aim of the project is to examine how changes in lumbar posture influence back extensor torque and trunk muscle activation in people with chronic low back pain (LBP).   A secondary aim will be to develop a clinical tool to evaluate trunk extensor torque in healthy subjects and individuals with chronic low back pain.  This research will provide insight into extensor muscle strength capabilities in healthy populations and those individuals with chronic LBP, and into possible mechanisms of low back injury and the implementation of rehabilitation programmes by clinicians.
Contact Grant Mawston

The effect of biofeedback while performing repetitive lifting on postural, psychophysical, and physiological responses in young individuals.
Boocock, Naude and Mawston
NZ Society PhysiotherapistsThe main aim of the study is to examine how biofeedback during the performance of a repetitive lifting task to fatigue by young individuals influences lumbar flexion, perceptual effort, body motion, and physiological measures (heart rate and muscle activity). An additional aim of the study is to investigate the reliability and validity of three dimensional accelerometers in measuring lumbar flexion.

Revision to the NZ 'Approved Code of Practice (COP) for the use of Visual Display Units in the Place of Work.'
Boocock, M.G., Tappin, D., Edwin, M., McNair, P.J., Collier, J., Rice, D., and Larmer, P.J.
Funding: Accident Compensation Corporation.
The development of guidelines for the management of risks factors associated with computer-operated workstations. These new guidelines contain practical tools for hazard assessment, methods for reducing hazards and preventative exercises. These will be of benefit to employers, employees, health and safety professionals and those involved in the injury prevention, management and rehabilitation of computer operators.
Contact: Mark Boocock

Evidence based reviews on epidemiology of work-related gradual process disorders: Development of an evidence base for the acceptance of claims.

Lumbar and hip muscle fatigue in young and middle aged individuals during static and dynamic tasks.Mawston, G.A., Boocock, M. G., and McNair, P.J.
Funding: New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists
Low back injury in an aging workforce is an increasing concern. Yet despite reductions in muscle strength and endurance with age, older workers are often expected to perform manual handling tasks of a similar workload to their younger colleagues. This may make these individuals more susceptible to local back muscle fatigue and injury. This project examines physiological fatigue patterns of erector spinae and hip extensor muscles in middle aged and young males before during and after a repetitive manual handling task.
Contact: Grant Mawston:

Biomechanical, subjective, and physiological responses of middle aged individuals during repetitive lifting and lowering.Mawston, G.A. and Boocock, M.G.
Funding: New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists.
Repetitive lifting has been associated with increased incidence of low back injury and this risk is substantially increased in older workers employed in occupations that require repetitive manual handling. The current project is examining lumbar  spine biomechanics, subjective and physiological responses of younger and middle aged males during repetitive lifting and lowering. Findings from this project may provide insight into possible physiological and biomechanical factors that may contribute to low back injury in older workers.
Contact: Grant Mawston:

The influence of posture on subjective, psychophysical and psychological responses to repetitive lifting fatigue.Mawston, G.A., McNair, P.J. and Boocock, M.G.
Funding: New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists.
Advice on lifting posture is considered an important aspect of low back injury prevention and rehabilitation of workers into occupations that involve repetitive manual handling activities. This project investigates lumbar spine mechanics, associated trunk muscle activation, physiological, and psychophysical responses of young males who adopted different lifting postures during repetitive lifting to fatigue.
Contact: Grant Mawston:

The influence of seating design on musculoskeletal discomfort in operators involved in repetitive work.
Boocock, M.G., Portero, P., Wilkins, F.J. and Couillandre, A. – in collaboration with Professor Pierre Portero from Service de Rééducation Neuro-Orthopédique, Hôpital Rothschild, Paris, France.
Funding: Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), France.
Sit-stand chairs are increasingly being used as means to vary working posture and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders when carrying out sedentary work. The project investigated the effects of ergonomic workstation design on musculoskeletal loads in workers performing repetitive tasks (e.g. meat processing).
Contact: Mark Boocock

The development of a generalised approach for the assessment of physical workload: “European Assembly Worksheet (EAWS)"Schaub, K., Boocock, M.G., Caragnano, G., Britzke, B., Winter, G., Sinn-Behrendt, A., Ahmadi, K. and Bruder, R. - in collaboration with Dr Karlheinz Schaub, Institute of Ergonomics, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany.
An integration of proactive ergonomic interventions into production structures and processes is essential to ensure an effective and efficient use of a company’s workforce. This can be achieved using risk evaluation tools. A generic risk assessment approach for assessing all aspects of physical workload has been developed.
Contact: Mark Boocock

Psychophysical measures of team handling capabilities.
Pinder A.D.J., Boocock, M.G. and Monnington, S.C. - in collaboration with Dr Andrew Pinder, Ergonomics Section, Health and Safety Laboratory.
Funding: Health and Safety Executive, UK.
It has often been suggested that differences in stature will affect lifting capacity. Maximum Acceptable Weights of Lift (MAWL) were determined for an infrequent task performed by two people. The effects of dissimilarities in stature were investigated by selecting subjects from the extremes of the male and female stature distributions.
Contact: Mark Boocock

The effects of inclined surfaces on pushing and pulling force capabilities.
Boocock, M.G. and Ferreira, J. - in collaboration with Jeremy Ferreira, Ergonomics Section, Health and Safety Laboratory.
Funding: Health and Safety Executive, UK.
The work environment is believed to have a significant impact on the ability to exert push-pull forces and may therefore present a risk of musculoskeletal injury to the operator. The effects of changing the inclination of floor surface were investigated in order to determine its impact on the ability to exert maximum push and pull forces.
Contact: Mark Boocock

Other active projects:

  • Preventing and managing upper limb musculoskeletal disorders using a tailored workplace exercise programme.
  • Three dimensional foot modelling of children with and without flat feet. joint research project with School of Podiatry, AUT University.
  • Knee articular cartilage image recognition and the assessment of biomechanical loads at the knee. Joint project with Department of Engineering Science, University of Auckland (Charles Unsworth and Zarrar Javaid).
  • Physiological responses of young and middle aged males during repetitive manual handling tasks.
  • Kinematic and electromyographic responses of middle aged and young males.