As a consultant to dentists, dental hygienists, workers compensation boards, and major disability insurance corporations for Ergonomic Practice Assessments, Dr. Lance Rucker has been involved in assessments and reviews of the ergonomic practices of injured dental and dental hygiene clinicians and of the equipment and layouts of their clinical practices. He is also frequently contracted to organize, manage and assist in rehabilitation of injured dental health professionals.
The Ergonomic Practice Assessment (EPA)
Over the past thirteen years, I have been called upon to do Ergonomic Practice Assessment (EPA) on behalf of individual clinicians, legal firms, worker compensation groups, and insurance companies. These assessments of practice ergonomics are most often requested as a means to determine the contribution (if any) of problematic clinical ergonomics to the reported impairment, practice restriction, and/or disability of a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant, and to determine the projected role (if any) of ergonomics training/retraining in reducing the problem and rehabilitating the individual as part of a return to work (RTW) strategy.
Standard industry Functional Capacity Evaluations and other work-capacity and stress-capacity measures are generalized for all types of workers and for all types of work requirements. They are very useful adjunctive evaluations which help determine areas of true physical limitations which might affect clinical work, but dental clinical treatment is primarily in the micromotor domain (a continuum of small muscle movements with a high required level of control but very little force). Dental professionals use very fine motor skills for which strength and stamina are not as important as the ergonomics of balance and finesse. If strength and stamina are important in modern dental practice, it is usually because the basic rules of clinical ergonomics are being violated. Such violations are quite common among practitioners, unfortunately, and the effects for an individual clinician are often obscured by the tolerance threshold of the clinician. Changes in fitness, changes in schedule, compromises of general health, and many other stress factors can alter this threshold and yield discomfort and breakdown for that same clinician. One of the key strategies which can allow a motivated individual to return to practice is adjustment of the ergonomics of practice so as to optimize the thresholds for comfort and healing. The Ergonomic Practice Assessment is a key evaluation to provide both baseline and follow-up information to determine the profile of the clinician and the clinic settings.
The Dental Clinical Ergonomics Consultant Group
Dr. Rucker’s complete Curriculum Vitae are available for download in PDF format from the Biography section of this web site. Although the strictures of confidentiality limit the level of disclosure of specifics for most cases in which he and his team have participated, references are available on request for each category of services which ErgonomicsDental and Dr. Rucker provide.
Dr. Rucker is Professor and Chairman of Operative Dentistry in the Department of Oral Health Sciences at the University of British Columbia. He has been Director of the Clinical Simulation Laboratory since 1983, where he has pioneered development of custom declination in surgical telescopes, and has contributed to the development of educational equipment and teaching methodologies which improve the ergonomics of dental practice.
Via ErgoLogic Enterprises Inc., a university technology spin-off company, Dr. Rucker produced one of the major alternative computer keyboards of the Twentieth Century, a keyboard which has been credited with reducing those factors most associated with keyboard-related Repetitive Strain Injuries.
He is Director of the Surgical Telescope Evaluation Program. Results of their research have been published since mid-1996.
As consultant to an international collaborative effort of several major universities and the World Health Organization, his work has extended far beyond its North American roots. Dr. Rucker has lectured and written widely on dental ergonomics since he began his work with Clinical Ergonomics in 1981. He led a joint project funded by the Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C. in which dentists and dental hygienists were evaluated for the reduction in work-related risks associated with preventive ergonomic training and the use of surgical telescopes in practice.
Dr. Rucker has worked with most major disability insurance corporations for Ergonomic Practice Assessments and rehabilitation for dental professional clients, including Berkshire Life, Provident/Paul Revere, Great-West Life, Blue Cross, Sun Life, the Insurance Corporation of B.C., Mutual of New York, Canada Life, ManuLife, Imperial Life.
Dr. Rucker has been involved in medical-legal reviews of the ergonomic practices of injured dental, dental hygiene, and dental assistant claimants. He is also frequently contracted to organize, manage and assist in rehabilitation of injured professionals.
Dr. Rucker has worked closely with many of the world’s experts in workplace injuries. He has conducted research and engaged in product development for general office workplace ergonomics.
He has worked with teams of specialists in clinical assessment and rehabilitation consultation for dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants in professional offices and government facilities across the U.S and Canada. Among his closest associates who form the Dental Clinical Ergonomics Consultants Group are Dr. Michael Belenky of the University of Maryland in Baltimore and Dr. Susanne Sunnell of the Omni Educational Group (further information and CVs for the associates is available on request from ErgonomicsDental.com)
In brief, Dr. Rucker has extensive credentials and resources for his expertise in dental clinic ergonomics which include the following:
- Holds current dental licenses in the United States (State of California) and in Canada (British Columbia).
- Has travelled to all parts of the U.S. and Canada to conduct Ergonomic Practice Assessments.
- Is a citizen of both the United States (where he was born) and Canada (since 1978).
- Writes expert medical-legal reports and has given expert testimony in courts in the U.S. and Canada.
- Has a world-wide international reputation as an invited lecturer and keynote speaker for topics related to dental ergonomics.
- Has taught (through Continuing Education courses) thousands of dentists and dental hygienists and other dental office personnel to understand and utilize the skills of optimal dental clinical ergonomics.
- Has written many scholarly articles as well as general professional journal articles about his realm of special expertise in clinical ergonomics.
- Conducts site visit evaluations of many private and institutional dental clinic practice settings.
- Performs Ergonomic Practice Assessments in the professional’s own private dental offices, often using sophisticated patient simulation equipment. When the professional being ergonomically assessed has already retired from practice in the wake of impairment, the Ergonomic Practice Assessment is sometimes performed by prior arrangement in another private office in the region, or at a regional dental school facility, or at Dr. Rucker’s own university setting (if the professional is able and willing to travel).
- Performs recommended interventions, when equipment adjustment or modification has been indicated, or when specialized ergonomic training/retraining has been indicated) in the professional’s own private dental offices, also using sophisticated patient simulation equipment.