ABSTRACT: The objective was to describe the relationship between epidemiological and biomechanical factors in the causal pathway of inflatable rescue boat (IRB)-related injuries in Australian surf lifesavers; to develop epidemiological and biomechanical methodologies and measurement instruments that identify and measure the risk factors, for use in future epidemiological studies. Epidemiological and biomechanical models of injury causation were combined. Host, agent and environmental factors that influenced total available force for transfer to host were specified. Measurement instruments for each of the specified risk factors were developed. Instruments were piloted in a volunteer sample of surf lifesavers. Participant characteristics were recorded using demographic questionnaires; IRB operating techniques were recorded using a custom-made on-board camera (Grand RF-Guard) and images of operating techniques were coded by two independent observers. Ground reaction forces transmitted to the host through the lifesaver's feet at the time of wave impact were measured using a custom-built piezoelectric force platform. The demographic questionnaire was found practical; the on-board camera functioned successfully within the target environment. Agreement between independent coders of IRB operating technique images was significant (p < 0.001) with Kappa values ranging from 0.5 to 0.7. Biomechanical instruments performed successfully in the target environment. Peak biomechanical forces were 415.6N (left foot) and 252.9N (right foot). This study defines the relationship between epidemiological and biomechanical factors in modifying the risk of IRB-related injury in a population of surf lifesavers. Preliminary feasibility of combining epidemiological and biomechanical information has been demonstrated. Further testing of the proposed model and measurement instruments is required.
International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion 03/2005; 12(1):39-44. · 0.67 Impact Factor