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Biomechanics of Load Carrying on the Head by Pregnant and Non-pregnant Beninese Women

M. Mansourou Lawani (Universite D'Abomey-Calavi, Benin)
Geneviève Dumas (Queen's University, Canada)

Visit to Queen's University, Kingston (Canada)

My visit to Kingston (Canada) took place from May 18 to June 6, 2009 within the framework of a scientific collaborative project with the Biomechanics Laboratory of Professor Geneviève Dumas, in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Queen's University.  It was my first opportunity for an academic exchange with a North American country and was the beginning of a scientific North-South collaboration.

During my visit to Canada, we were able to accomplish the following:

a) Preparation of the visit to Benin of  G. Dumas and her graduate student, Erica Beaucage-Gauvreau: finalising  the experimental protocol for data collection, preparation of the budget for the visit to Benin as well as for the project itself,  application for Ethics approval at Queen's and the Institut National de la Jeunesse de l'Education Physique et du sport (INJEPS),  visa applications;

b) Finalising the different questionnaires to be used for pregnant and non-pregnant Beninese women;

c) Simulation in the laboratory of the tasks to be analysed in Benin and of the experimental data collection;

d) Updating of literature and bibliography for the courses I teach;

e) Participation  in  weekly research meetings with Pr. Dumas and her graduate students and research assistant every Monday.

On each of these aspects, we worked with the goal of sharing knowledge and of mutual enrichment.

I appreciated the good conditions of my stay (accommodation, food, site visits, welcoming attitude and friendliness of all lab members, etc.) provided by Pr. Dumas and her assistants to whom I want to express my gratitude.

Visit to Bénin by Pr. G. Dumas and E. Beaucage-Grauveau

Within the framework of the research project, Professor Dumas and Erica Beaucage-Gauvreau, came to Benin (Porto-Novo) for 8 and 30 days respectively. They stayed in a private house that was rented for a month. A classroom was made available for the project by the administration of the Institut National de la Jeunesse de l'Education Physique et du sport. It was transformed into a laboratory for the data collection during the first week of the visit. 

During three weeks, data were collected from 26 pregnant and 25 non-pregnant women. This included questionnaire data, photographs for anthropometry (Jensen's photogrammetric method), and postural data during load carrying on the head (20% body mass) using electro-goniometers and inclinometers.

Some subjects were also instrumented with an inclinometer and datalogger, and data were collected at their homes to assess postures during their normal daily activities.  Videotaping of a few women performing their commercial activities (carrying loads on the head during retail sales) was also performed.

After data collection and during week-ends, visits to various sites of interest, beaches and museums were organised to make the visit more enjoyable and further widen intercultural understanding and knowledge.  

I would like to thank the Awards Committee and members of the International Society of Biomechanics for giving us this opportunity to share knowledge, experience and friendship.

Sincerely,
Professor M. Mansourou Lawani