The State of the Science in Universal Design: Emerging Research and Developments

Measuring Physiological and Biomechanical Responses to Cold and Icy Conditions: Preliminary Findings

Author(s): Jennifer A. Hsu, Yue Li and Geoff Fernie

Pp: 87-98 (12)

Doi: 10.2174/978160805063511001010087

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Studies conducted in countries all over the world have linked winter climate to increased risks of morbidity and mortality. However, researchers have yet to understand the overall effect of the winter climate including consequences of such factors as surface conditions on the human body. The main objectives of this project were to develop a portable ambulatory system for data collection in cold climates and use it to observe physiological and biomechanical effects of cold temperatures and icy surfaces. Furthermore, a laboratory-based experiment was designed in order to obtain datasets on 11 young and healthy subjects. Participants were observed in a cold chamber walking at a comfortable pace in three test conditions: (1) on ice with a safety harness, and on a rough surface while (2) wearing a harness, and (3) without a harness. The ambulatory monitoring system was used to simultaneously record blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, muscle activity, gait parameters and foot pressure, and subjective responses were used to derive a comprehensive understanding of the body's responses. Preliminary findings of this study include results which indicate that heart rate is significantly elevated prior to traversal over ice and blood pressure rises significantly within ten minutes of exposure to cold are also presented.

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