Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Engineering

Research Advisor

Michael J. Rosen, PhD


Eugene C. Eckstein, PhD Richard J. Kasser, PhD


Employment, Supported, Tennis Elbow, Biomedical Engineering


Cumulative trauma disorders are musculoskeletal problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tendinitis, and epicondylitis which can affect assembly line workers. The injuries are thought to result from repetitive motions performed under excessive loads in anomalous postures. The project aimed to design, build, install, and evaluate worksite accommodation at the Saturn plant for a worker with right lateral epicondylitis. The goal was to make her fully functional in her original team which required addressing the injurious aspects of the task that caused or aggravated her injury.

A process of observation, interview, and analysis identified “the door mount” operation on the Doors Team as potentially injurious and as a task that the restricted worker is unable to perform. The design goal was the modification of a standard electric torque gun on the “door mount” operation. The design process evolved through three stages. The first design was a wearable tool support. It was followed by a flexible shaft bolt driver. Finally, both these designs were overshadowed by the three-axis tool holder which was implemented on the line.

The three-axis tool holder was evaluated by the worker and the other non-injured members of the team. The device performed very satisfactorily and was successful in maintaining the line speed. A static postural analysis revealed that all load reductions established as design goals have been attained. The extended on-line evaluation by Saturn will reveal whether the three-axis tool holder has made it possible for the restricted worker with right lateral epicondylitis to become fully functional on her original team.