The Technology

The Giddins Guard has been designed by Grey Giddins, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who specialises in  injuries of the elbow, wrist and hand. The Guard has been tested in the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the University of Bath.  

There have been a number of scientific studies carried out  showing that conventional brace-type wrist guards reduce the incidence of wrist fractures in snowboarders by up to 85%. (Hagel et al. The effect of wrist guard use on upper-extremity injuries in snowboarders. Am J Epidemiol 2005 This was an epidemiological study which looked at 2,000 snowboarders in Quebec.)

There is, however, an urban myth amongst snowboarders that wearing a conventional brace-type wrist guard makes injuries worse in the event of an accident although there is no reliable scientific evidence to support this theory. It is much more likely that the 15% of snowboarders who still suffer an injury somewhere in their arm whilst wearing a wrist guard were probably in an extremely severe fall, such that the peak forces generated resulted in injury, despite the protection provided by the wrist guard. Our hypothesis is that, although they may suffer significant injury to the upper limb, the damage is still less than it would have been had a wrist guard not been worn.

The bottom line is that no wrist guard will prevent all wrist fractures. In the same way there is no cycle helmet that will prevent all head injuries: if you fall hard enough you will still injure yourself.  Interestingly the reduction in head injuries due to wearing a cycle helmet has also been put at 85%. (Thompson, Rivara & Thompson, New England Journal of Medicine 1989). Although less than 100%, an 85% reduction in the risk of a fracture is very significant.

Given that the evidence of the benefits of wearing a wrist guard is so clear, why do only 10% of snowboarders wear them (Snowboard Wrist Guards – Use, Efficacy and Design. Kim and Lee. Bulletin of the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases 2011)? Our research suggests that it is due to a combination of the discomfort and restriction in movement due to wearing a conventional brace-type guard (which prevents wrist movement), together with a lack of understanding of the benefits.

The Giddins Guard was designed to provide all of the protection of a conventional brace-type guard, whilst avoiding the negative aspects of their restriction of movement and discomfort, which strongly discourages people from actually wearing them. The key insight by Grey Giddins is that the protection is provided by reducing peak forces through the carpal bones (small bones of the wrist) and then the wrist and arm. He believes that the prevention of movement in the wrist by the brace is not only unnecessary, but is counter-productive as it prevents the hand cocking back in to the optimal position to absorb shock on impact.

The Giddins Guard has been subject to impact testing by the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the University of Bath, and has been shown to be at least as effective as conventional brace type wrist guards at reducing the peak forces upon impact in a fall.

We would therefore expect the Giddins Guard to be at least as effective as a conventional brace-type wrist guard in preventing wrist fracture.

That is to say that a person can still break their wrist or damage their arm whilst wearing the Giddins Guard, however we expect that your chances of doing so are reduced by upto 85% or so. Whether you sustain a fracture will be down to: a) the height from which you fall; b) the type of surface you land on; and c) the density of your bones.

 

The Giddins Guard has been subject to biomechanical testing in the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the University of Bath, under the supervision of Professor Tony Miles. Ideally we would test it on volunteers in simulated falls, but this would not be ethical so at present we can only rely on established data and mechanical testing. Once the Giddins Guard is worn by enough people, we plan to carry out an epidemiological study to demonstrate its efficacy.

The Giddins Guard complies with The European Directive 89/686/EEC which covers Personal Protective Equipment and therefore carries the ‘CE’ mark.