Adequacy of laboratory simulation of in-line skater falls

John Lubahn, Richard Englund, Gerardo Trinidad, John Lyons, David Ivance, Frank L. Buczek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: Currently most laboratory simulation of distal radius fractures and wrist injuries has been with axial limb loading or vertical drop technique. To better assess the contribution of horizontal velocity in momentum in the development of wrist injury and wrist fracture we have compared forces and fracture patterns for fall simulations involving strictly vertical impacts with those that incorporated horizontal momentum in fresh-frozen upper extremities. Methods: The premise for testing was based on a forward fall onto the palmar surface of an outstretched arm. A 45°-incline impact device was used to model the horizontal and vertical velocity components of a skater fall at a representative speed. Sled mass was 26.2 kg. A 45.5-kg vertical impact system furnished contrasting data and represented prior state-of-the-art technology. Drop heights were adjusted to compensate for discrepancy in sled mass. Measurements from either impact system included vertical and horizontal forces and kinetic energy at impact. Fracture patterns were assessed radiographically. Nine trials were conducted with the incline device and 11 trials were conducted with the vertical impact system. Results: The fracture rate was substantially higher for vertical impacts versus incline impacts (82% vs 33%). The rate of carpal fractures also was higher. Vertical and horizontal forces were similar statistically although slightly greater for vertical impacts. Kinetic energy, however, was 3 times greater for incline impacts than for vertical impacts. These kinetic parameters support the argument that the incline impacts should have resulted in far greater injury. Conclusions: The data suggest horizontal momentum changes limb loading. We submit that published methods for modeling skater falls have failed to provide a true simulation of the event in question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-288
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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