Investigating manual performance when using push buttons following cold water hand immersion

Major, Alexandria (2022) Investigating manual performance when using push buttons following cold water hand immersion. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The research in this thesis investigates manual performance of humans when using push buttons following cold water hand immersion. An experiment involving 29 human participants was carried out to measure the activation rate for two types of commercially available personal locator beacons after their hands were immersed in either cold water (2 °C) or thermoneutral water (34 °C) for 2 minutes. Similarly, the activation rate was measured for a range of different push buttons mounted on a novel test apparatus after their dominant hand was immersed in both cold (2 °C) and thermoneutral (34 °C) water for 2 minutes. A series of standardized hand dexterity tests were completed to assess the participants baseline tactile sensitivity. The mean baseline performance of participants indicates that they were representative of the general population. The button test apparatus test was developed specifically for this experiment and was comprised of 12 different buttons at different locations on the panel which were varying in size, surface shape and texture. After the participants immersed their dominant hand in the assigned temperature condition, their index finger was guided to the centre of the panel, and they were instructed to find and press as many buttons as they could in a 2-minute time period with only their index finger. Repeat presses were permitted. For both the button panel test and the PLB test, the participants’ view was obstructed from seeing the buttons. After the experiments were completed a questionnaire was given to the participants for them to fill out. The questionnaire consisted of a variety of questions which related to performance feedback of both the PLB tests (Stage 2 & Stage 4) and the button panel apparatus test (Stage 3). This was to have results of how they thought they performed in comparison to how they had performed in the experimental session. Based on the findings from the previous research, it was hypothesized that having cold wet hands would lead to a poorer performance for push button activation than when having warm wet hands. Additionally, it was hypothesized that a button which was large, protruding, and rough would be activated most frequently. The results of the study show that temperature does not influence the activation rate for personal locator beacons or the activation rate of the push buttons on the button test apparatus. In addition, button size (large) was the most significant factor, followed by shape (protruding), however button texture was not a significant parameter. For the application of the activation of PLBs false activation rate occurred and this requires further investigation. For the PLB tests which were conducted it was evident that the two devices were difficult to activate for both hand immersion temperature conditions (thermoneutral and warm).

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15710
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 101-103)
Keywords: personal locator beacons, push button activation, cold water, search and rescue manual performance, button design, hand immersion
Department(s): Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of
Date: October 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Survival and emergency equipment; Search and rescue operations; Acoustic localization; Beacons

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