WristWand Effectiveness Case Study
Conducted by Shaw Industries

Shaw Industries Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., is the world's largest carpet manufacturer with more than $5 billion in annual sales and approximately 30,000 associates worldwide. It is headquartered in Dalton, Georgia.

This study sought to determine the effectiveness of using the WristWand stretching device in a manufacturing setting.

A study was conducted to evaluate the benefits, if any, the WristWand stretching device may generate for employees at Plant WE. Benefits were sought in the following areas:
• Changes in associates' wrist, forearm, and shoulder comfort on the job
• Changes in flexibility of the shoulders and wrists of participants (indicative of proper stretching)
• Changes in the associates' rating of their stretching program (specifically that associates believed their stretching program helped them feel more comfortable on the job.)
• Decreases in the severity of any sprains/strains that may occur

Two stretching programs were tested as time became available in the schedules of the Safety/Training department at Plant WE. For two groups, (Air Entanglement and Warping Creelers) the stretching regime remained unchanged during the study. These groups served as baseline data points to establish average flexibility of the wrist and shoulder and self-reported scores were given for wrist, forearm, and shoulder comfort. Associates also self-reported their belief (on a scale of 1 to 5) that the stretching program was helpful.

Identical data was collected for employees, who were given the WristWand stretching tool and asked to stretch with it twice each day. Availability of the WristWand was the only intentionally manipulated variable in the study.

The WristWand
The WristWand stretching device itself is a small tube just 10 inches in length with foam on each end. The device is gripped with both hands, palms facing up, and held just below the chin. The device is pushed vertically down and away from the body with arms locked in a fully outstretched fashion. The arms can then be raised or lowered to stretch the front and back of the shoulder. The stretch is repeated for approximately 30 seconds, but there is no reason to believe continuing the stretch for longer would cause any harm.

The device is presumed to function because of the novel stretch it causes. The WristWand effectively stretches the muscles responsible for pronating each hand (that is to say, it causes a counterclockwise rotation of the right hand and a clockwise rotation of the left). It also provides a short stretch of areas related to repetitive stress disorders (i.e. carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome). This is especially important because academic research has shown specifically that stretching, even if very brief, causes immediately increased bloodflow to the stretched region. It is this increased bloodflow that would be the greatest aid for the reduction of cumulative trauma disorders of the wrist.

Results from the study were obtained through analysis of collected data with a statistics package (SOFA Statistics) and qualitative interviews of associates in small offices or break rooms on the manufacturing floor. These results show a significant difference in employee wrist flexibility in the counterclockwise direction. As referenced earlier, this is very meaningful because this is the most specific stretch the WristWand causes.

Employees also consistently self-reported greater wrist, forearm, and shoulder comfort after using the WristWand. They also reported a greater perception that their stretching program was helping them to feel more comfortable on the job.

The differences that did come back as statistically significant were employee ability to flex the wrist up and counterclockwise, so can confidently say that change is due to associate use of the WristWand. This is important because, despite limitations of the study, these two changes were still able to reach statistical significance.

The two statistically significant findings support anecdotal evidence reported by associates who've used the WristWand. Specifically, WristWand users would frequently tout a newfound ability to fully stretch their arms out and away from their bodies, which they were not able to do before using the tool. During on-site interviews, some employees were quick to express their approval of the WristWand and happiness with the product. In this regard, there was a general sense that the WristWand was a helpful stretching tool, that it worked well, and that its use was supported by the associates. There were some opinions expressed that the WristWand could not be an exclusive substitute for the old stretching routine, however, because its stretches were limited to the arms and shoulders. Specifically, a large number of associates recommended performing back stretches and some wanted additional leg stretches.

Associates also expressed concern regarding individuals who are able to lead the stretching group. Several associates mentioned that they were unable to perform their stretches because their usual leader was out for the day, so additionally training more associates to be able to fill this role would certainly help associates maintain their scheduled stretches.

Because of limitations with our data, we weren't able to show exhaustive statistical evidence for our collected results. We did, however, show that use of the WristWand causes a measurable increase in an associate's ability to flex their wrist up and to pronate their wrist. Pronating the wrist is a stretch that has not been attempted before (to my knowledge) and the WristWand very effectively enables this. This stretch is important because it increases the flow of blood to the areas believed to be related to the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other cumulative trauma disorders.

Associates who used the WristWand self-reported higher feelings of comfort in their wrist, forearm, and shoulders when compared to measurements taken prior to use of the device. They also reported higher perceptions that their stretching program helped to make them feel more comfortable at work.

For the above-stated reasons, I would recommend widespread use of the WristWand stretching device to help mitigate the risk of cumulative trauma injuries such as carpal tunnel. To maintain an effective stretching program, stretches of the back may be reinstated and practiced alongside use of the WristWand. Additionally, leg stretches may be implemented if there is available time. Associates self-reported that twice per day was an adequate amount of stretching periods, but that they found it hard to regularly attend these periods due to environmental conditions at the facility (i.e. removal of the short shift-overlaps). To conclude, I was notified by our Corporate Nursing team that one of our suppliers is going to carry a supply of the WristWand.

For more information contact Michael Booorstein, (415) 457-7990