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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1998 Dec;85(6):2054-65.

Influence of localized auxiliary heating on hand comfort during cold exposure.

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Human Protection and Performance, Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3M 3B9.


There is a need for a hand-heating system that will keep the hands warm during cold exposure without hampering finger dexterity. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of torso heating on the vasodilative responses and comfort levels of cooled extremities during a 3-h exposure to -15 degreesC air. Subjects were insulated, but their upper extremities were left exposed to the cold ambient air. The effect of heating the torso [torso-heating test (THT)] on hand comfort was compared with a control condition in which no torso heating was applied, but Arctic mitts were worn [control test (CT)]. The results indicate that mean finger temperature, mean finger blood flow, mean toe temperature, mean body skin temperature, body thermal comfort, mean finger thermal comfort, and rate of body heat storage were all significantly (P < 0.05) higher on average (n = 6) during THT. Mean body heat flow was significantly (P < 0.05) lower during THT. There were no significant differences (P >/= 0.05) in rectal temperature between CT and THT. Mean unheated body skin temperature and mean unheated body heat flow (both of which did not include the torso area in the calculation of mean body skin temperature and mean body heat flow) were also calculated. There were no significant differences (P >/= 0.05) in mean unheated body skin temperature and mean unheated body heat flow between CT and THT. It is concluded that the application of heat to the torso can maintain finger and toe comfort for an extended period of time during cold exposure.

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