The Medical College of Wisconsin received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to investigate the link between the vibrations and shock waves generated by construction machinery and the onset of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Danny Riley, Ph.D., professor of cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy, is the principal investigator for the grant.
HAVS is a debilitating condition of the hand and fingers in which sufferers experience numbness and reduced blood flow due to dysfunction in affected nerves and arteries.
Based on United States Bureau of Labor estimates, approximately 1.5 million American workers operate powered tools that expose them to hand-arm vibration, putting them at risk for developing HAVS.
In this study, rat-tail models will be used due to similarities with human fingers in the structure and function of nerves and arteries. Two different components of vibration will be tested to measure the impact of relevant risk factors, including the type of vibration and the duration of exposure.
Dr. Riley’s research aims to fill an important gap in knowledge by improving our understanding of the relationship between levels of shock wave vibrations and tissue damage. This information will likely lead to improved, research-based safety ordinances that better address the potential harm workers face from vibrations. This study will also be used in the future to develop interventions that reduce the risk of developing HAVS in the workplace.
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