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Experiences and consequences for women with hand-arm vibration
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
2010 (English)In: Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, ISSN 1051-9815 (Print) 1875-9270 (Online), Vol. 35, no 4, 431-439 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Vibrating machines are used in a variety of occupations. Exposure to hand-arm vibration can cause vascular, neurological, and muscular symptoms in the hands and arms. This qualitative study provides a deeper understanding of the consequences of vibration injuries in women. In depth interviews were conducted with eight women with vibration injuries. The women were metal and wood product assemblers and dental personnel. The transcribed interviews were analyzed in accordance with the grounded theory method.

The core category in the findings was "{another life}". This was constructed by the categories "consequences for everyday activities", "work performance", "household duties", "leisure", and "self perception" and shows that the injury had affected most parts of the women's lives and decreased their quality of life. The importance of well-functioning hands in all activities was highlighted. Reduced hand function due to numbness, muscle weakness, and pain caused restricted abilities to perform activities at work, at home, and during leisure time. The women described impact on their self-perception, as the injury had affected them in their roles as a worker, mother, and woman. The findings indicate that a vibration injury is a multidimensional problem that can affect every aspect of an individual's life. Health care providers should be aware of these complex consequences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 35, no 4, 431-439 p.
Keyword [en]
Consequences, women, dental personnel, hands, directive
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4303DOI: 10.3233/WOR-2010-0980ISI: 000278326400004PubMedID: 20448322OAI: diva2:143330
Available from: 2004-11-30 Created: 2004-11-30 Last updated: 2011-12-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Hand-arm vibration and working women: Consequences and affecting factors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hand-arm vibration and working women: Consequences and affecting factors
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The use of hand-held vibrating tools may lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a condition with vascular, neurological and musculoskeletal symptoms. Vibrating tools are used in several occupations in which women can be found, e.g. by metal- and wood workers, drivers, and dental personnel. The risk of women developing HAVS is hard to estimate, as little research has been done on women exposed to hand-arm vibration. The overall aim of this thesis has been to fill this gap of knowledge. It is based upon one questionnaire study and one interview study on women who have reported an occupational injury related to hand-arm vibration. The thesis also comprises two laboratory studies of female and male subjects exposed to hand-arm vibration from a handle.

The questionnaire and the interview study showed that the women had a high prevalence of symptoms, such as numbness, weakness, pain and white fingers. Neurological symptoms were more common and developed after shorter time of exposure compared to vascular symptoms. The symptoms had a considerable impact on all domains of the women’s lives, not only on their physical functioning, such as the ability to work, to participate in leisure activities and to do household activities, but also on their relationships and identity. Forty per cent of the women had retired or retrained due to the injury. Dental personnel had the highest relative risk of vibration injuries.

In one of the laboratory studies 12 female and 12 male subjects were exposed to vibration in two vibration directions, (Xh and Zh) and at two vibration levels. The absorbed power was higher in the Zh direction and at the higher vibration level. The volumes of the subjects’ arms affected the power absorption in the Zh direction. There were no indications of a gender difference in the absorption of power.

In the other laboratory study, the effect of handle size, vibration level, anthropometric measures and maximal grip force on the ability to perform a precision task was studied in 20 female and 20 male subjects. Ratings of difficulty and discomfort were made after each test round. The results indicate that the male subjects performed better in all the tests, but no gender difference was seen in the ratings. The higher vibration level resulted in higher ratings of discomfort. In the female subjects, the handle size, the anthropometric measures and maximal grip force affected both the performance and the ratings.

In conclusion, the studies indicate that vibration injuries are severely disabling and influence many parts of the sufferer’s life. Vibration injuries are preventable, and the extensive consequences found underscore the importance of preventive action. This can be done by informing employees about the risks, and by giving them the opportunity to choose suitable machines and to practice work tasks when starting a new job.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Folkhälsa och klinisk medicin, 2004. 55 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 931
Public health, HAV, vibration, women, injuries, power absorption, handle, gender, Folkhälsomedicin
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-381 (URN)91-7305-770-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-12-16, Stora föreläsningssalen, Arbetslivsinstitutet, Peter Laestadius väg, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2004-11-30 Created: 2004-11-30 Last updated: 2010-02-24Bibliographically approved

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