OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that wearing a wrist splint while performing a common light manufacturing task (moving an object from a bin) increases shoulder muscle activity.

METHODS. Electromyography (EMG) signals were evaluated from the anterior, middle, and posterior deltoid, trapezius, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus of 14 volunteers while they moved an object from a bin. Two test conditions were measured: with and without a wrist splint. The height of the bin was also varied.

RESULTS. Wearing a wrist splint increased maximum EMG for all six muscles and average levels for the deltoid (anterior, middle, posterior) and trapezius. As bin height increased, maximum muscle activity increased in the deltoid (anterior, middle, and posterior) and trapezius, and the average increased in the deltoid (middle and posterior) and trapezius.

CONCLUSIONS. Workplace factors can modify the activation of a patient’s shoulder muscles when he or she is wearing a wrist splint. An ergonomic job analysis should be conducted for patients who are returning to work wearing wrist splints.

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