Open Access Dissertation
Current research indicates that acute non-freezing cold exposure elicits short-term performance problems; namely reduced upper extremity temperature, blood flow, tactile sensitivity, and dexterity. However, various animal-related studies indicate that humans are at increased risk of incurring semi-permanent upper extremity nervous system dysfunction as a result of repeated cold exposure. The purpose of this research was to examine various factors that may contribute to hand/arm nervous system impairment of individuals who work in a refrigerated meat-processing environment. The methodology used was primarily the Experimental Method and from studies conducted by other researchers, was driven by the following questions: (1) How would heat applied to the hands of meat processing workers who work in a refrigerated environment affect their level of fingertip sensitivity? (2) To what extent does smoking negatively contribute to the development of a semi-permanent nervous system impairment in the hands of meat processing workers? (3) To what extent does the time that an individual works in a refrigerated meat-processing environment significantly correlate to his/her level of fingertip sensitivity? (4) To what extent does the skin thickness on the dorsal side of a meat processing worker's hand significantly correlate to his/her level of fingertip sensitivity? The study was conducted by initially testing the subjects' index fingertip sensitivity with a Bruel and Kjare vibrometer. For the next 8 weeks, the treatment subjects wore a glove equipped with a functional heat pack on the dorsal side of their left (non-dominant) hand during the normal work routine while the control subjects' glove contained a non-functional heat pack. Two additional vibrometry tests were performed during the study; one after 4 weeks and the other after 8 weeks. Through the use of t-tests and Pearson correlation coefficient statistical analysis techniques, it was found that subjects who received the heated glove experienced a significant improvement in left as well as right-hand fingertip sensitivity. Thus, this study indicates that individuals are at increased risk of incurring semi-permanent upper hand/arm nervous system impairment as a result of repeated cold exposure.
Year of Submission
Doctor of Technology
Department of Industrial Technology
Ali E. Kashef, Committee Chair
1 PDF file (x, 99 pages)
©2000 Brian James Finder
Finder, Brian James, "The effect of heat on fingertip sensitivity of meat processing workers" (2000). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 740.