This study was to determine estimates of the stiffness and damping properties of the wrist and shoulder in children by examining wrist impacts on the outstretched hand in selected gymnastic activities. The influence of age, mass, and wrist and torso impact velocity on the stiffness and damping properties were also examined. Fourteen young gymnasts (ages 8 to 15 yrs) were videotaped while performing back-handspring trials or dive-rolls. Kinematic and ground reaction analysis provided input for computer simulation of the body as a rheological model with appropriate stiffness and damping. A significant positive linear relationship was obtained between wrist damping in dive rolls and age, mass, and wrist and torso impact velocity, while shoulder damping in the back-handsprings had a significant positive linear relationship with body mass. This new information on stiffness and damping at the shoulder and the wrist in children enables realistic mathematical modeling of children's physical responses to hand impact in falls. This is significant because modeling studies can now be used as an alternative to epidemiological studies to evaluate measures aimed at reducing injuries in gymnastics and other activities involving impact to the upper extremity.
Injury Prevention Research Unit, Dept. of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine
School of Physical Education, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand.