Through a randomized controlled trial, we evaluated the effects of an electro-magnetic active seat suspension that reduces exposure of a long-haul truck driver to whole body vibration (WBV) on low back pain (LBP) and disability. Among 276 drivers recruited from six trucking terminals of a major US trucking company, 135 eligible drivers were assigned to either having an Active Seat (Intervention: n = 70) – the BoseRide® electro-magnetic active seat – or Passive Seat (reference: n = 65) – a new version of their current seat (passive air suspension seat) – installed in their truck via block (terminal) randomization. Low back pain (LBP) severity, on a 0-10 scale and the Oswestry LBP Disability Index were collected before and 3-, 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-months post seat installation. LBP severity and LBP disability scores were significantly lower post seat installation in both groups. At 3 months, LBP severity decreased -1.4 [95% CI: -2.1 to -0.7: n = 46] for drivers in the Active Seat arm, and -1.5 [95% CI: -2.3 to -0.8: n = 41] for drivers in the Passive Seat arm. In a subset of drivers, WBV exposures were collected before and after the seat installation. WBV exposures significantly decreased post seat installation for Active Seat (p < 0.01) but not for Passive Seat (p = 0.15). While the new seat-suspension technology reduced WBV exposures, LBP appeared to be improved by multiple factors. These results were limited by the secondary prevention approach and the longer-term loss to follow up due to large rates of driver turnover typical for the industry.
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