Assessment of coarse and fine hand motor performance in asymptomatic subjects exposed to hand-arm vibration

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A frequently encountered exposure profile for hand-arm vibration in contemporary occupational setting comprises workers with a long history of intermittent exposure but without detectable signs of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Yet, most of the published studies deal with developed HAVS cases, rarely discussing the biological processes that may be involved in degradation of manual dexterity and grip strength when it can be most beneficial - during the asymptomatic stage. In the present paper, a group of 31 male asymptomatic vibration-exposed workers (according to the Stockholm Workshop Scale) were compared against 30 male controls. They were tested using dynamometry and dexterimetry (modelling coarse and fine manual performance respectively) and cold provocation was done to detect possible differences in manual performance drop on these tests. The results showed reduced manual dexterity but no significant degradation in hand grip strength in the exposed subjects. This suggests that intermittent exposure profile and small cumulative vibration dose could only lead to a measurable deficit in manual dexterity but not hand grip strength even at non-negligible A(8) levels and long term exposures.

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