Motor variability in work-related tasks
— degree and physiological effect
More "variation" is one of the most popular notions of how work should be changed in order for fewer to be afflicted by strain-related complaints. One way of achieving variation is to take advantage of the body's exceptional motor flexibility when a given task is to be carried out. Presumably, the ability to take advantage of this flexibility differs from person to person. The research includes the use of many precise methods of measuring the individual's movement patterns during standardized work in the laboratory and analysing the resulting data with advanced biomechanical methods.
A reasonable hypothesis with a certain amount of empirical support is that individual differences in motor patterns may be the reason that some develop strain-related injuries in work which others manage without a problem. The shoulder region in particular can be expected to reveal such differences in motor function as its motor flexibility is high. A possible motor characteristic which is of significance for the risk of injury is the degree of "similarity" in the motor pattern between repeated cycles of the same task.
There is support in literature for the notion that individuals differ in terms of motor variability and that the variability is affected by pain and exercise. Studies of how motor variability is influenced by relevant organizational factors in the work, such as work tempo and required precision, are also rare. In order for motor variability to be an interesting factor in relation to the development of strain-related complaints, relevant physiological reactions would have to be found to vary with the degree of variability, but studies of the relationship between variability and physiology are few.
The idea behind this framework project, spread out over several years, is to examine whether motor variability is a determining factor in productivity and the risk of developing a strain-related complaint, and if that is the case, if the individual can positively affect their motor variability through exercise.
Examples of studies:
Development and application of new measurements of motor variability in repetitive work
Studies of the motor effects of combining physical and mental work.
A study of motor variability at different work tempos.
Svend Erik Mathiassen
Collaboration with researchers in Sweden, Denmark, Holland and USA