Hand-held vibrating tools may result in neuromuscular dysfunction and vasospastic problems of the hand. Sensory and motor dysfunction can be explained by injury to peripheral structures, but could also be due to changes in cortical somatotopic mapping of the hand in the brain. The purpose of the present study was to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the somatotopic cortical representation of the hands of workers subjected to occupational vibration. The study included six men with severe vibration exposures who were suffering from hand-arm-vibration syndrome (HAVS) and six controls. The analysis focused on the pattern and degree of activation of contra- and ipsilateral hemispheres of the brain with tactile stimulation and motor activation of the hand. These stimulations resulted in well-defined activation of the contralateral, and to a lesser extent the ipsilateral hemisphere. Statistical analysis of this limited patient material did not indicate any significant somatotopic cortical changes following long-term exposure to vibrating hand-held tools, although there was a tendency to a shift of activation towards the more cranial parts of the cortex in the patient group.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging