Mechanoreceptors

Last Updated: May 22, 2018

Definition - What does Mechanoreceptors mean?

Mechanoreceptors are afferent or sensory nerves of the nervous system. These special types of neurons are found in the skin and other organs. They sense touch, position, and sound by detecting vibration and pressure. Mechanoreceptors are highly sensitive in order to provide the body with swift action in response to tactile input. Musculoskeletal risk factors in the work place can cause temporary and permanent nerve damage if not properly mitigated through good ergonomic design and proper worksite safety procedures.

WorkplaceTesting explains Mechanoreceptors

Mechanoreceptors are sensory neurons that respond to mechanical stimuli. Mechanoreceptors detect tension, pressure, vibration, sound, and displacement. Thus, these receptors can not only detect touch but also sense muscle contractions and spatiality.

There are several different types of mechanoreceptors. Four main types of mechanoreceptors found in the skin detect varying degrees of touch. Mechanoreceptors in hair follicles sense when the hair changes position. Specialized hair cells in the cochlea are the most highly sensitive mechanoreceptors and detect minute changes in air pressure. These sensory neurons in the ear transmit sound for the brain. The mechanoreceptors in the vestibular apparatus of the ear detect motion, position, and gravity, permitting the body to maintain its balance. Baroreceptors are a type of mechanoreceptor in the blood vessels that detect blood pressure.

The full extent of mechanoreceptor function in the human body is not yet known. But what is known is that damage to these types of nerve tissue can lead to loss of balance and hearing, an inability to detect and respond to injury, and a loss of tactile dexterity.

In the workplace, ergonomic design should address prevention of nerve injury and loss of sensation. Additionally, safety equipment such as gloves and hearing protection must take into account the worker's need for sensory input. Poorly designed personal protective equipment may cause a lack of compliance with safe work procedures and thus increase the employee's risk of harm.

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