Cooling and rewarming of hands of military conscripts
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The key to successful cold weather operations is among others to maintain soldiers’ manual dexterity and tactile sensation. Cooling of the hands leads to loss of manual dexterity, and reduces operational capacity. This descriptive study investigated whether cold weather exposure affects cooling rate and/or rewarming rate for soldiers’ hands. Skin temperature changes following a standardized cold provocation test on the back of the hands were examined on two cohorts of conscripts at two particular time points; the first during the first week of basic military training and the second following participation in a winter exercise in Northern Norway. The results reveals a tendency in both cohorts for hands to rewarm slightly faster after the winter exercise compared to after the first week of basic training. No difference in rewarming rate between the two cohorts was found after the winter exercise. The findings reveal that it is worth considering future studies to determine whether a standardized cold provocation test of hands can distinguish soldiers who are more prone to loss of manual dexterity and tactile sensation, and thus have a reduced operational capability in the cold.