An elliptical cylinder model developed by Jensen (1978) has been a widely accepted method for determining human segment inertial parameters. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the accuracy of the segment volume calculation step of this model. Three possible sources of error were examined: between-sex differences in body shape, image ratio, and human inconsistencies in digitizing. Volume estimates for the right lower arm + right hand, right lower leg + right foot, and whole body on 20 young men and women were calculated from digitized images at a ratio of 1:10 and 1:5 of the actual size (measured) and compared to values measured using an underwater displacement technique (criterion). Results showed no differences between the sexes on the accuracy of estimating the three volumes at either image ratio. Combining both sexes, the error in calculating segment volumes with an image-to-actual-size ratio of 1:10 were significantly larger, p < 0.05, than at a ratio of 1:5 for both the lower arm + hand (4.28 ± 2.92% vs. –0.43 ± 2.49%) and the whole body (4.80 ± 2.49% vs. 2.01 ± 2.17%). There was no significant change in mean for the lower leg + foot when the image was increased from 1:10 to 1:5 (–0.12 ± 3.92% vs. –0.81 ± 3.01%, respectively). Although not statistically significant, p > 0.05, a greater magnification seemed to have also reduced the influence of human inconsistencies, which was found to be a primary source of error. When the image-to-actual-size ratio is high (i.e., 1:5) and precaution is taken during digitization, the elliptical cylinder model provides accurate estimates of segment volumes of the whole body and extremities.
The authors are with the Dept. of Human Movement at Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, Canada P3E 2C6.