A sensor-based system using inertial magnetic measurement units and surface electromyography is suitable for objectively and automatically monitoring the lumbar load during physically demanding work. The validity and usability of this system in the uncontrolled real-life working environment of physically active workers are still unknown. The objective of this study was to test the discriminant validity of an artificial neural network-based method for load assessment during actual work. Nine physically active workers performed work-related tasks while wearing the sensor system. The main measure representing lumbar load was the net moment around the L5/S1 intervertebral body, estimated using a method that was based on artificial neural network and perceived workload. The mean differences (MDs) were tested using a paired t-test. During heavy tasks, the net moment (MD = 64.3 ± 13.5%, p = 0.028) and the perceived workload (MD = 5.1 ± 2.1, p < 0.001) observed were significantly higher than during the light tasks. The lumbar load had significantly higher variances during the dynamic tasks (MD = 33.5 ± 36.8%, p = 0.026) and the perceived workload was significantly higher (MD = 2.2 ± 1.5, p = 0.002) than during static tasks. It was concluded that the validity of this sensor-based system was supported because the differences in the lumbar load were consistent with the perceived intensity levels and character of the work tasks.
- Lumbar Vertebrae