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Med Eng Phys. 1998 Jan;20(1):57-65.

Measurement of impact force, simulation of fall and hip fracture.

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Oxford Orthopaedic Engineering Centre, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Headington, UK.


It has been shown that the incidence of hip fracture in the elderly may be influenced by the type of floor covering commonly used in homes for the elderly. This study describes the development of a method for modelling a fall during a hip fracture event, to examine the influence of different floors on impact force. An impact transducer is dropped in free fall through a smooth plastic tube. The impactor nose of the transducer models the curvature of the greater trochanter, and a steel spring is used to simulate the compliance of the skeletal structure. A weight, which corresponds to one-sixteenth of average body mass, compresses the spring and applies force to the impactor nose on striking the floor. The temporal variation in the force of impact with the floor is measured by the transducer to within 0.41 percent (SD = 0.63%, n = 10). Five common floor coverings were tested over a concrete floor slab (vinyl, loop carpet and pile carpet--both with and without underpad). ANOVA analysis showed that the differences between mean forces for each floor covering were highly significant (p > 0.001), with the thicker coverings producing 7 percent lower forces. The transducer may be used to examine the correlation between impact force and fracture incidence for a variety of different floors in homes for the elderly.

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