Heart rate variability (HRV) and muscular system activity (EMG) in cases of crash threat during simulated driving of a passenger car
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Department of Ergonomics, Central Institute for Labour Protection, National Research Institute, Warszawa, Poland
Department of Ergonomics, Central Institute for Labour Protection — National Research Institute, Czerniakowska 16, 00-701, Warszawa, Poland
Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology, Warszawa, Poland
CRASh s.c. — Computer Research for Automotive Safety, Warszawa, Poland
Department of Internal Medicine and Cardiology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warszawa, Poland
Faculty of Transport, Warsaw University of Technology, Warszawa, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2013;26(5):710–723
Objectives: The aim of the study was to verify whether simultaneous responses from the muscular and circulatory system occur in the driver's body under simulated conditions of a crash threat. Materials and Methods: The study was carried out in a passenger car driving simulator. The crash was included in the driving test scenario developed in an urban setting. In the group of 22 young male subjects, two physiological signals - ECG and EMG were continuously recorded. The length of the RR interval in the ECG signal was assessed. A HRV analysis was performed in the time and frequency domains for 1-minute record segments at rest (seated position), during undisturbed driving as well as during and several minutes after the crash. For the left and right side muscles: m. trapezius (TR) and m. flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS), the EMG signal amplitude was determined. The percentage of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) was compared during driving and during the crash. Results: As for the ECG signal, it was found that in most of the drivers changes occurred in the parameter values reflecting HRV in the time domain. Significant changes were noted in the mean length of RR intervals (mRR). As for the EMG signal, the changes in the amplitude concerned the signal recorded from the FDS muscle. The changes in ECG and EMG were simultaneous in half of the cases. Conclusion: Such parameters as mRR (ECG signal) and FDS-L amplitude (EMG signal) were the responses to accident risk. Under simulated conditions, responses from the circulatory and musculoskeletal systems are not always simultaneous. The results indicate that a more complete driver's response to a crash in road traffic is obtained based on parallel recording of two physiological signals (ECG and EMG).