Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Availability

Open Access Dissertation

Abstract

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

2000

Degree Name

Doctor of Technology

Department

Department of Industrial Technology

First Advisor

Ali E. Kashef, Committee Chair

Date Original

7-2000

Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 99 pages)

Language

EN

File Format

application/pdf

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