Measuring the risk of sustaining injury in sport a novel approach to aid the re-design of personal protective equipment
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Applied Ergonomics, 2012, 43 (5), pp. 883 - 890
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Despite the possibilities offered by new approaches in design and advances in materials and manufacturing methods, few items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used in sport have seen significant change for many decades. A major reason for this is the tradition and conservative attitudes associated with many sports, although the absence of appropriate tools and techniques to assist the design and development process has also played a large part. The aim of this study was to develop the first stage of a method of identifying specific regions of the human anatomy that are at the greatest risk of sustaining injury during participation in sports in which the player is subjected to multiple ballistic impacts. It is proposed that the findings could be used to confirm future designs of sports PPE. Previous studies have identified the amount and the location of the protection provided by current commercially available products but, until now, no evidence has been reported to determine what protection is required based on an understanding of the likely impact and the anatomy of the athlete.Using the leg and cricket as examples of an anatomical feature and a sporting application respectively, the severity and probability of injury due to ball impacts typically observed in play are quantified, with respect to their location on the leg, to estimate the level of risk in that region. Results show that the level of risk is greatest in the shin regions of the front leg, suggesting that this region should be offered the greatest degree of protection, as is generally the case in commercially available leg guard designs. Conversely, however, the inner region of the mid shin of the back leg is at the lowest risk, suggesting that protection in this region might be substantially reduced, a feature which is certainly not included in current product; such a reduction may significantly enhance the ergonomic performance of the leg guard design.The findings of this preliminary study indicate that the method offers the potential to quantify the relative risk of sustaining injury, in a sports specific application, as a function of location on the body and is thus a potentially useful design tool for design engineers of sports PPE. Given the embryonic nature of this approach, however, a number of assumptions and additional considerations is presented which reveal that, whilst the technique offers additional design insight, further research is required before it should be applied to equipment design. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and The Ergonomics Society.
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