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        the goal of identifying a noninvasive means of detecting a skeletal muscle damage threshold.

    • Determining whether the injury response of muscle, disc, tendon and nerve to repeated loading has more to do with the rate of loading, peak loads, duration, or some other factor. This involves:

        — Determining differences among tissues in response to loading.

        — Determining the role of conditioning and age in modifying this response.

    • Identifying sources and mechanisms of discogenic, muscular, and tendon-related pain, especially as related to the ultrastructural injury and biochemical alterations associated with physical loading.

    2. Biomechanical studies directed toward:

    • Investigating the role of repetition, change in workshift, and variable repetition patterns (as experienced during work rotation) on changes in loading patterns and tolerance limits for joints and soft tissue.

    • Quantifying the relationship between loading of a joint or tendon and the pain process.

    • Exploring the influence of psychological stress (including psychosocial) on musculoskeletal response and the mechanical loading of joints.

    3. Psychosocial studies directed toward:

    • Investigating the mechanisms through which psychosocial stressors contribute to or impact work-related musculoskeletal disorders and the biological basis for such associations.

    4. Epidemiologic studies directed toward:

    • Taking advantage of existing and newly developed measures of exposure and outcome to undertake longitudinal studies of musculoskeletal disorders directed toward:

        — Clarifying the natural history of musculoskeletal disorders resulting from physical and psychosocial work exposures, focusing on both clinical and functional outcomes.

        — Examining the separate and interacting influence of physical and psychosocial work stressors in the etiology of musculoskeletal disorders.

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