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Scand J Work Environ Health. 1987 Aug;13(4):279-83.

Sensorineural stages of the hand-arm vibration syndrome.

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Division of Physics, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.


Recent work has shown that the vascular signs and neurological symptoms commonly associated with exposure of the hand to vibration may develop independently. A classification for the neurological component of the hand-arm vibration syndrome has been developed for those symptoms dominated by sensory afferent involvement, based on the results of objective tests on 634 hands. The first symptomatic stage (1SN) consists essentially of episodic finger numbness with or without tingling, the second involves, in addition, reduced sensory perception (2SN), while the most severe stage (3SN) focuses on reduced tactile discrimination and/or manipulative dexterity. Consistent implementation of this classification by means of objective tests requires one, or more, precise, quantitative measure of peripheral somatosensory dysfunction, in addition to the traditional neurological tests (fine touch, pain, and temperature). Measurements of tactile function by means of esthesiometry or vibrotactile perception appear suited to this purpose. A procedure for staging individual hands may then be based on combining numerical scores assigned to the results of the traditional neurological tests and, additionally, esthesiometer and/or vibrotactile perception thresholds.

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