How to Perform Remote Ergonomics as an Occupational Therapist
Even though we interviewed an OT performing remote ergonomics, I think these answers will be really helpful to any COTA/OTA or PT or PTA looking to get into the ergonomics field. And what I'm very excited to say too is that this therapist is rocking it in a Fargo, North Dakota!
How Crystal Nelson From Alter Ergo Transitioned From Occupational Therapist to Owning Her Own Remote Ergonomics Business:
We had the pleasure of interviewing Crystal and are so appreciative of the time she spent sharing her story below, we hope it helps inspire you!
1. How did you first get started in ergonomics?
I have always been interested in ergonomics since learning about it in college, earning my Masters of Occupational Therapy Degree (graduated in 2008). Shortly after college, I worked for an outpatient clinic where I had the opportunity to complete ergonomic assessments which fueled my passion even more.
Since I have always been passionate about injury prevention, I knew that creating a business around ergonomics is just what I needed to do. My next goal is to pass my exam in September to become a Board Certified Professional Ergonomist. This is definitely a bucket list item.
2. What drew you to the ergonomics field?
Honestly, I have always enjoyed taking care of people. I used to treat patients that were in pain from MSD's that were coming to see me for therapy in the clinic. There were so many people that I wish I could have met sooner to help prevent their aches and pains by implementing ergonomic solutions right away. The ergo field just makes sense to me since it allows us to provide a more proactive approach to health and wellness.
3. What do find the most rewarding about ergonomics?
It has always been about the people I meet. It is most rewarding when I can help someone feel better. There have been a few occasions where I have helped prevent a surgery as well which is also incredibly rewarding.
4. Any tips for those wanting to get into ergonomics?
Start small by learning general information about ergonomics, such as the risk factors and the golden zone/power zone, then move toward learning how to do an office ergonomic assessment. Alter Ergo on YouTube has some great beginner tips for various topics. Some of my first trainings and certifications were from The Back School which I highly recommend. Alternative Healthcare Careers- https://www.alternativehealthcarecareers.com/ergonomics - also has great certifications that include business and career guides in addition to lifetime access to their ergonomics trainings
5. I see you have started your own ergo company, Alter Ergo (love the title BTW) - how has that process been?
Thank you! I own a local ergonomic company called, Fargo Ergonomics so adding another company (Alter Ergo) was a lot easier than starting from scratch (Fargo Ergonomics). I have figured out what services are most beneficial and what questions people are most curious about. When I first started in the area of ergonomics, there was a lot of local networking and educating. There was and still is a high need to educate people about ergonomics and the benefits it has to offer.
6. I see you do virtual assessment, how has that been versus in person and how has getting clients been?
Virtual assessments have been and still will be an option but Alter Ergo's website is currently being revamped to offer the following services - ergonomic assessments, ergonomics programs, stretch and flex programs, webinars/trainings and functional job assessments.
To answer your question though - virtual assessments were a great solution during the pandemic and can be a great solution when a company does not have a local ergonomist. I enjoy doing ergonomic assessments in-person though. I feel like great information can be obtained with a virtual assessment, however, even better information can be obtained in-person. It may also just be because I love meeting new people and enjoy being social though!
7. I see you use grants to help aid in the ergonomics assessments, if I saw that correctly, can you talk a little about that?
I live in Fargo, ND and North Dakota has an ergonomic program through our state worker's comp insurance program (called WSI). The Ergonomic Initiative Grant Program is for eligible ND companies.
WSI (Workforce Safety & Insurance) pays for 75% of approved ergonomic assessments and helps to pay for recommended ergonomic equipment. Grant money is dependent on the company's WSI yearly premium and goes toward 75% of the purchase, with a maximum award amount of $5,000 - 50,000 (depending on the company's premium).
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