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Finite Element Modelling of Snowboard Wrist Protectors

Newton-Mann, Chloe Rebecca (2019) Finite Element Modelling of Snowboard Wrist Protectors. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Snowboarding has a higher injury risk than alpine skiing, with the upper extremities being the most common site for injuries. Wrist protectors are recommended to reduce injury risk by limiting wrist hyperextension and impact forces. There are different wrist protector designs but there is currently no recognised standardisation, with little consensus as to which are most effective. While experimental protocols are useful for analysing current products, they are limited when assessing the effect of design changes and predicting the performance of future protector concepts. The aim of this project was to develop finite element models to assess the impact performance of snowboard wrist protectors, whilst fitted to a surrogate. Two wrist protectors were chosen for modelling, both with palmar and dorsal splints and padding in the palmar region, with one classified as short and the other a long protector (based on splint length). The component materials within the protectors were characterised and impact tested. Using the measured material properties, finite element models replicating these impact tests were developed and compared to the experiment for validation. These models were developed into full protectors fitted to a wrist surrogate under impact. To validate the full protector models, experimental testing was conducted using a modified version of the pendulum impact rig developed by Adams (2018) across a range of energies (10 to 50 J). The validated models were then used to explore the effect of changing components (e.g. splint length, material) on impact performance, in order to enhance the understanding of wrist protector design. The research highlighted clear differences in the properties of wrist protector components from the same size/brand, re-iterating the need for standardisation. The palmar splint was found to have the largest influence on impact force and the dorsal splint on wrist angle, in agreement with the literature. Model outputs showed peak force and maximum wrist angle to decrease as splint length or stiffness (thickness or material) increased. Future work could develop the model into a tool for improving wrist protectors as well as to predict whether new designs would meet the requirements of the new ISO standard (once published).

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