Measurement precision of a portable instrument to assess vibrotactile perception threshold

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The objective of the present study was to evaluate the reliability of a modified version of the commercially available Biothesiometer, and to examine vibrotactile perception thresholds with respect to age and gender. A standardized protocol for measuring vibrotactile perception threshold was administered to 80 subjects, once a week over 4 weeks. Inter-session variability was stable (analysis of variance for repeated measures; P>0.05) and correlations were high (Pearson's: 0.87≤r≤0.90; P≤0.001). For sites on both hands and feet, there was a significant increase with age (0.19≤r 2≤0.52; P≤0.001). Five factor analysis of variance model showed that vibrotactile perception threshold was significantly different with stimulus site, age category and gender; no differences were observed with alcohol consumption or smoking status. The findings indicate that the measurements from this device are highly reproducible and sensitive to expected threshold differences with age and gender. The authors attribute this to technical improvements of the original apparatus, rigid adherence to test protocol and maintenance of standard conditions. This type of instrument would be useful in assessing vibrotactile perception loss in occupational health studies.