Axial Impact Biomechanics of the Human Foot-Ankle Complex

[+] Author and Article Information
N. Yoganandan, F. A. Pintar, S. Kumaresan

Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Wisconsin; Department of Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI 53226

M. Boynton

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin; Department of Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI 53226

J Biomech Eng 119(4), 433-437 (Nov 01, 1997) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2798290 History: Received March 13, 1996; Revised November 25, 1996; Online October 30, 2007


Recent epidemiological, clinical, and biomechanical studies have implicated axial impact to the plantar surface of the foot to be a cause of lower extremity trauma in vehicular crashes. The present study was conducted to evaluate the biomechanics of the human foot–ankle complex under axial impact. Nine tests were conducted on human cadaver below knee–foot–ankle complexes. All specimens were oriented in a consistent anatomical position on a mini-sled and the impact load was delivered using a pendulum. Specimens underwent radiography and gross dissection following the test. The pathology included intra-articular fractures of the calcaneus and/or the distal tibia complex with extensions into the anatomic joints. Impactor load cell forces consistently exceeded the tibial loads for all tests. The mean dynamic forces at the plantar surface of the foot were 7.7 kN (SD = 4.3) and 15.1 kN (SD = 2.7) for the nonfracture and fracture tests, respectively. In contrast, the mean dynamic forces at the proximal tibial end of the preparation were 5.2 kN (SD = 3.1) in the nonfracture group, and 10.2 kN (SD = 1.5) in the fracture group. The foot and tibial end forces were statistically significantly different between these two groups (p < 0.01). The present investigation provides fundamental data to the understanding of the biomechanics of human foot–ankle trauma. Quantifying the effects of other factors such as gender and bone quality on the injury thresholds is necessary to understand foot–ankle tolerance fully.

Copyright © 1997 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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