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Post-effects of long-term hand vibration on visuo-manual performance in a tracking task

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Movement precision and performance time were evaluated through a visuomanual tracking task performed before and after 10-min hand vibration exposure. Constant displacement amplitude vibration of 0.2 and 0.3 mm peak to peak at 90, 150, 300 Hz were applied to the hand z-axis by a vertical handle. During exposure a grip force of 5% MVC was exerted for 5 s and then relaxed for 25 s while maintaining fingers-handle contact. The tracking task consisted in moving a ring (O=9 mm) attached to a thin rod held between the index finger and thumb along a zig-zagged wire (O=3.7 mm). Alterations of tracking errors (ring-wire contact) and tracking time were analysed as a function of the vibration parameters. The tasks were performed by ten healthy participants. Vibration induced a significant increase in tracking errors (ring-wire contact) and a significant decrease in tracking time. These impairments decayed with time after vibration exposure. The recovery period was > 5 min but < 10 min with the exception of 90 Hz vibration, for which recovery could be > 10 min. The number of tracking errors was neither influenced by vibration frequency nor by amplitude. The tracking time decreased as frequency increased and recovery was related to the displacement amplitude. The subjective rating of the performance on a visual analogue scale indicated that the subjects tended to perceive the task as being easier after vibration exposure. Vibration applied to the non-dominant hand while the participant performed the tracking task had no effect. These results show that vibration similar to hand- tool vibration affects precision and velocity control of visually guided hand movements. Furthermore, these performance decrements were not consciously perceived.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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