Previous studies of human response to whole-body vibration demonstrated nonlinear softening behaviors with increasing vibration magnitudes. Most of these studies were conducted at relatively low vibration magnitudes of less than 3 m/s2
root mean square (RMS), and not much knowledge is available to show if this softening behavior exists when humans are exposed to higher vibration magnitudes. In this work, 26 participants were transported in a supine position inside an army medical vehicle on a road that simulated field scenarios and were exposed to input acceleration magnitudes at 0.60, 0.98, 1.32, 3.25, 5.58, and 5.90 m/s2
RMS. Motion response data were collected at the head, torso, and pelvis of the participants using inertial sensors. Transmissibility and coherence graphs were used to investigate the type of nonlinearity induced under these transport conditions. Participant responses showed softening behavior when the vibration magnitude increased from 0.60 to 0.98 to 1.32 m/s2
RMS. However, this response behavior changed to stiffening when the vibration magnitude increased to 3.25, 5.58, and 5.90 m/s2
RMS. In the stiffening range, the transmissibility of the torso transformed from two dominant peaks to a single peak, which may indicate a tonic muscle behavior. The resulting stiffening behaviors may be considered in the design of transport systems subject to rough terrains.
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