Factors Influencing Manual Performance in Cold Water Diving

Facteurs Influant sur la Dextérité en Plongée en Eau Froide


  1. Morrison, J.B.
  2. Zander, J.K.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Shearwater Human Engineering, Vancouver BC (CAN)
With the introduction of new communications and display technologies, the ability of divers to operate complex controls becomes an important factor in systems design. This study evaluates the effects of pressure, gloves, and cold on three components of manual performance: grip strength, tactile sensitivity and manual dexterity. Performance was evaluated at 0.4 and 40 msw: with and without gloves in 25°C water, and with gloves in 4°C water. Results show that narcosis did not affect manual performance at 40 msw (p<0.05). In 25°C water, three fingered neoprene gloves caused a significant impairment of grip strength (23%), tactile sensitivity (35%) and manual dexterity (45%). There was an interaction effect between gloves and pressure, with the compression of neoprene providing an improvement in grip strength and manual dexterity at 40 msw. Tactile sensitivity and manual dexterity were both affected by cold at 40 msw when wearing gloves (p<0.05). The combined effects of gloves, pressure and cold water resulted in a 30% decrement in grip strength and a 60% decrement in tactile sensitivity and manual dexterity. Based on these findings, ergonomic recommendations are made for design and usability testing of underwater equipment and controls.

Il y a un résumé en français ici.

underwater;immersion;skin temperature;hyperbaric;grip strength;tactile sensitivity;hand;narcosis;ergonomic
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2007-165 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Apr 2008
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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