Title: Thermographic assessment of the thenar thumb muscles during pipetting

Authors: Nirathi Keerthi Govindu; Kari L. Babski-Reeves

Addresses: Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, P.O. Box 9542, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39759, USA. ' Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, P.O. Box 9542, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39759, USA

Abstract: Hand disorders as a result of pipetting are common because of its nature (repetitive, precise, controlled movements, sustained forces, etc.). Techniques to quantify risk factor exposures are needed to understand pathophysiological mechanisms associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Therefore, an exploratory study was conducted to assess the value of thermography as a potential assessment tool during pipetting. Temperatures of the skin surface over the thenar thumb muscles were collected from 12 participants (six males and six females) while using high or low volume pipettes to transfer viscous or non-viscous solutions between tubes. Subjective ratings of discomfort were also collected. Rate of change in thermal readings and perceived discomfort over time was observed, and a moderate correlation (r = 0.47) between these variables was found. Gender was found to significantly affect the thermal readings. These results suggest that thermography may be potentially used to further understand pathophysiological mechanisms for upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders.

Keywords: thermography; thermal imaging; WMSDs; pipetting; thenar thumb muscles; risk assessment; thermographic assessment; hand disorders; pathophysiological mechanisms; musculoskeletal disorders; skin surface temperature; perceived discomfort; gender; ergonomics; human factors.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2012.050865

International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 2012 Vol.1 No.3, pp.268 - 281

Available online: 06 Dec 2012 *

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