Biomechanical testing of hip protectors following the Canadian Standards Association express document
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A variety of hip protectors are available, but it is not clear which is the most effective and there is no standard test to evaluate their performance. This is the first study that uses a standard mechanical test on hip protectors. Some protectors perform well but others are almost ineffective, providing little to no protection to the wearer during a fall.
Each year, over 70,000 patients are admitted to hospital in the UK with hip fractures. There are a variety of commercial hip protectors currently available. However, it is not explicitly clear which is the most effective with regard to maximum force attenuation, whilst still being both comfortable for the user and providing reasonable force reduction if misplaced from the intended position. The numerous test methods reported in the literature have given conflicting results, making objective comparison difficult for users, researchers, and manufacturers alike. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has therefore published an express document (EXP-08-17) with a draft standard test method. This paper presents initial results for a range of hip protectors.
Eighteen commercially available hip protectors were tested according to EXP-08-17. Each hip protector was impacted five times in correct anatomical alignment over the greater trochanter and once at 50 mm displacements in the anterior, posterior, and lateral directions.
Considerable differences were identified between individual hip protectors in their ability to reduce impact forces on the femur (between 3% and 36% reduction in peak force). The performance was reduced when misplaced in many cases (maximum reduction only 20%).
This is the first study that uses a standard mechanical test on hip protectors. Previous studies have used a variety of methods, making it difficult to interpret results. We hope that these results using a standard test method will facilitate the effective comparison of results, as well as providing useful data for clinicians, users, and purchasers.
KeywordsBiomechanics Elderly Falls Fall injuries Hip fracture Hip protectors
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
Sam Evans was a consultant to the Ascent Group on hip protector design and testing and Dow Corning on impact protection materials and testing. Both Sam Evans and Bethany Keenan are consultants for Delloch and SpineCor. Delloch provided the majority of the hip protectors for this study.
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