Measuring Physiological and Biomechanical Responses to Cold and Icy Conditions: Preliminary Findings
Pp. 87-98 (12)
Jennifer A. Hsu, Yue Li and Geoff Fernie
Studies conducted in countries all over the world have linked winter climate to increased
risks of morbidity and mortality. However, researchers have yet to understand the overall effect of the
winter climate including consequences of such factors as surface conditions on the human body. The
main objectives of this project were to develop a portable ambulatory system for data collection in cold
climates and use it to observe physiological and biomechanical effects of cold temperatures and icy
surfaces. Furthermore, a laboratory-based experiment was designed in order to obtain datasets on 11
young and healthy subjects. Participants were observed in a cold chamber walking at a comfortable
pace in three test conditions: (1) on ice with a safety harness, and on a rough surface while (2) wearing
a harness, and (3) without a harness. The ambulatory monitoring system was used to simultaneously
record blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, muscle activity, gait parameters and foot pressure,
and subjective responses were used to derive a comprehensive understanding of the body's responses.
Preliminary findings of this study include results which indicate that heart rate is significantly elevated
prior to traversal over ice and blood pressure rises significantly within ten minutes of exposure to cold
are also presented.
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 2A2, Canada.