Comparing the fracture limits of the proximal femur under impact and quasi-static conditions in simulation of a sideways fall
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Sideways falls onto the hip are responsible for a great number of fractures in older adults. One of the possible ways to prevent these fractures is through early identification of people at greatest risk so that preventive measures can be properly implemented. Many numerical techniques that are designed to predict the femur fracture risk are validated through performing quasi-static (QS) mechanical tests on isolated cadaveric femurs, whereas the real hip fracture is a result of an impact (IM) incident. The goal of this study was to compare the fracture limits of the proximal femur under IM and QS conditions in the simulation of a sideways fall to identify any possible relationship between them. Eight pairs of fresh frozen cadaveric femurs were divided into two groups of QS and IM (left and right randomized). All femurs were scanned with a Hologic DXA scanner and then cut and potted in a cylindrical tube. To measure the stiffness in two conditions of the single-leg stance (SLS) and sideways fall (SWF), non-destructive tests at a QS displacement rate were performed on the two groups. For the destructive tests, the QS group was tested in SWF configuration with the rate of 0.017 mm/s using a material testing machine, and the IM group was tested in the same configuration inside a pneumatic IM device with the projectile target displacement rate of 3 m/s. One of the IM specimens was excluded due to multiple strikes. The result of this study showed that there were no significant differences in the SLS and SWF stiffnesses between the two groups (P = 0.15 and P = 0.64, respectively). The destructive test results indicated that there was a significant difference in the fracture loads of the two groups (P < 0.00001) with the impact ones being higher; however, they were moderately correlated (R2 = 0.45). Also, the comparison of the fracture location showed a qualitatively good agreement between the two groups. Using the relationship developed herein, results from another study were extrapolated with errors of less than 12%, showing that meaningful predictions for the impact scenario can be made based on the quasi-static tests. The result of this study suggests that there is a potential to replace IM tests with QS displacement rate tests, and this will provide important information that can be used for future studies evaluating clinical factors related to fracture risk.