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July 10, 1997

Low-back injury focus of center

The Foundation for Physical Therapy has awarded Anthony Delitto, associate professor and chair of physical therapy, a three-year $600,000 grant to study work-related low back injuries.

About $300,000 came from the American Physical Therapy Association's Section on Orthopedics, $50,000 each from the State Farm Insurance Foundation and the Rehability Corporation, $20,000 from Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and $10,000 from the AON Corporation.

Delitto will establish a Center for the Study of Work-Related Low Back Injury in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; it will include the Pain Evaluation and Treatment Institute, Comprehensive Spine Center and the CORE Network of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

"Low back injury is one of the most costly injuries from a worker's compensation standpoint," Delitto said. "We see a range of 10-15 low back injuries each month, mostly nurses and other employees." While most low back injuries resolve themselves in a short period of time, about 5 percent become chronic, according to Delitto. That 5 percent accounts for 80 percent of escalating costs.

"If you can detect those 5 percent early on, you're going to save a lot of money," Delitto said.

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