University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Research
Research

Association of Nerve Movement During Functional Hand Use to Pathology Development in Dental Hygienists

Principal Investigator: Shawn Roll

Project Period: August 2017 – May 2018
Funding Source: USC Office of Undergraduate Programs – Undergraduate Research Associates Program
Total Award: $6,000

Brief Summary: Nearly 70% of dental hygienists report experiencing discomfort in their forearms/wrists/hands, and more than half of dental hygienists report developing median nerve pathology during their career. To enhance education, develop preventive training programs, and address work-related musculoskeletal disorders in dental hygienists and dental hygiene students, it is necessary to better understand the link between task exposure and pathology development. To this end, we are conducting a federally funded study to validate a novel method of early detection for median nerve pathology and to determine the effects of dental scaling as an intensive functional hand activity on morphology and symptoms.

Students selected for URAP support for this project will participate in the processing and analysis dynamic sonographic images/videos. Specifically, students will evaluate changes that occur during functional grip and pinch activities for the nerve shape due to compression, displacement of the nerve within the carpal tunnel due to tendon motion, and longitudinal sliding of the nerve relative to the tendons. These data will be compared to the development of symptomatology in dental hygiene students. Participation in this project will provide student-researchers with a unique opportunity to participate in and learn about the research process; gain skills in reading research literature and learn how to discuss the overall value and quality of publications; and gain advanced knowledge related to musculoskeletal anatomy of the wrist and hand, with advanced focus on understanding the complex dynamic relationship of tissues during functional movement, as well as the impact on development of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, all through the lens of hands-on experience with sonographic imaging.