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Ergonomics - Research Paper Example

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Ergonomics Research Paper Outline Introduction Ergonomics is concerned with the various interactions between human beings and other elements in a system. The basic idea is to create systems that are healthy for human beings to operate in and interact with…
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Download file to see previous pages (Berkeley University, 2008) This text is an outline for a research proposal concerned with ergonomic principles, ergonomic issues in the workplace and their effective solution through research. Ergonomic principles and problems will be discussed followed by the research methodology for finding solutions. This will be followed by the solutions and an accompanying conclusion. Background Ergonomics can be broadly classified into three major distinctions: 1. Physical Ergonomics: related to human’s anatomical, biomechanical, physiological and some anthropometric activities. 2. Cognitive Ergonomics: related to mental processing in human beings. 3. Organizational Ergonomics: related to optimizing social and technical systems along with organizational structure, processes and policies. This research focuses solely on physical ergonomics in general and on physiological and anatomical issues in particular. The ergonomic problem under focus is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome has been chosen as it is a common and well investigated problem. The chances of locating reliable sources for carpal tunnel syndrome are high. A discussion is available below for carpal tunnel syndrome in context of applicable ergonomic principles. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is experienced as pain, numbness, burning or tingling sensation in the hand and fingers. Repeated actions of the hand and wrist in certain postures are known to cause CTS in certain workers. (Hutson, 1997) The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that connects the lower palm to the wrist’s bottom. This passageway houses various tendons that aid finger movement as well as the median nerve. The median nerve is responsible for movement of the hand as well as for sensation in it. The carpal tunnel is enclosed on the inner side of the wrist by tissue better known as transverse carpal ligament. If CTS sets in, the passageway is made narrower by the surrounding tissues. This could occur due to increased pressure on tissues or due to fluid buildup inside tissues (also known as oedema). As the tissue size increases, the median nerve is stressed out. Pressure on the median nerve is enhanced whenever flexion (bending of the fingers and wrist) occurs. Pain and numbness are felt as the median nerve is stressed and compressed. (NHS, 2010) Symptoms of CTS The biggest symptom of CTS is sporadic numbness experienced within the thumb, index finger, long finger and in the radial half of the ring finger. (Walker, 2010) In most cases, the numbness is more pronounced at night because most people sleep with their wrists flexed. As the wrist is flexed, the median nerve is compressed more thereby causing the numbness. (Shiel, 2010) The persistence of CTS over a long period is known to cause permanent nerve damage. This results in a constant feeling of numbness as well as loss of picking power of the wrist. (Uemura, Hidaka, & Nakamura, 2010) The pain experienced in CTS is actually numbness that is intense enough to cause a person to wake up from sleep. Causes behind CTS Currently the causes behind CTS are classified as idiopathic1. Investigation over the years has revealed that CTS arises from a variety of causes that pressurize the median nerve present at the wrist. These conditions can be common such as the use of oral contraceptives, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, trauma and hypothyroidism. (Katz & Simmons, 2002) Other than these causes, intrinsic and extrinsic complications that exert pressure on the carpal tunnel may cause CTS too. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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