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Dynamic biomechanical model of the hand and arm in pistol grip power handtool usage

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The study considers the dynamic nature of the human power handtool operator as a single degree-of-freedom mechanical torsional system. The hand and arm are, therefore, represented as a single mass, spring and damper. The values of these mechanical elements are dependent on the posture used and operator. The apparatus used to quantify these elements measured the free vibration frequency and amplitude decay of a known system due to the external loading of the hand and arm. Twenty-five subjects participated in the investigation. A full factorial experiment tested the effects on the three passive elements in the model when operators exerted maximum effort for gender, horizontal distance (30, 60, 90 cm), and vertical distance (55, 93, 142 190 cm) from the ankles to the handle. The results show that the spring element stiffness and mass moment of inertia changed by 20.6 and 44.5% respectively with vertical location (p < 0.01), and 23.6 and 41.2% respectively with horizontal location (p < 0.01). Mass moment of inertia and viscous damping for males were 31.1 and 38.5% respectively greater than for females (p < 0.01). Tool handle displacement and hand force during torque buildup can, therefore, be predicted based on this model for different tool and workplace parameters. The biomechanical model was validated by recalling five subjects and having them operate a power handtool for varying horizontal distances (30, 60, 90 cm), vertical distances (55, 93, 142 cm), and two torque build-up times (70, 200 ms). Tool reaction displacement was measured using a 3D-motion analysis system. The predictions were closely correlated with these measurements (R = 0.88), although the model underpredicted the response by 27%. This was anticipated since it was unlikely that operators used maximal exertions for operating the tools.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Publication date: February 20, 2001

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