Repetitive low-force contractions are common in the workplace and yet can lead to muscle fatigue and work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The current study aimed to investigate potential motion adaptations during a simulated repetitive light assembly work task designed to fatigue the shoulder region, focusing on changes over time and age-related group differences. Ten younger and ten older participants performed four 20-min task sessions separated by short breaks. Mean and variability of joint angles and scapular elevation, joint net moments for the shoulder, elbow, and wrist were calculated from upper extremity kinematics recorded by a motion tracking system. Results showed that joint angle and joint torque decreased across sessions and across multiple joints and segments. Increased kinematic variability over time was observed in the shoulder joint; however, decreased kinematic variability over time was seen in the more distal part of the upper limb. The changes of motion adaptations were sensitive to the task-break schedule. The results suggested that kinematic and kinetic adaptations occurred to reduce the biomechanical loading on the fatigued shoulder region. In addition, the kinematic and kinetic responses at the elbow and wrist joints also changed, possibly to compensate for the increased variability caused by the shoulder joint while still maintaining task requirements. These motion strategies in responses to muscle fatigue were similar between two age groups although the older group showed more effort in adaptation than the younger in terms of magnitude and affected body parts. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Qin, J., Lin, J. H., Faber, G. S., Buchholz, B., & Xu, X. (2014). Upper extremity kinematic and kinetic adaptations during a fatiguing repetitive task. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 24(3), 404-411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jelekin.2014.02.001