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The Influence of Footwear Sole Hardness on Slip Initiation in Young Adults

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Slips occur when the friction demand of an individual exceeds the friction available from the shoe/floor interface. Shoe sole hardness is one of the factors thought to influence friction demand and available friction. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of footwear sole hardness on the probability of slip initiation. Forty young adults were randomized into a hard or soft sole group. Slip events during the slippery floor trials were documented using a motion analysis system. The proportion of slip events in the hard sole group was greater than that in the soft sole group. The difference between utilized and available friction accurately predicted 90% of slip outcomes. Our data support the premise that individuals wearing shoes with harder soles are at greater risk for slipping. The results of this study suggest that shoe sole hardness should be considered when designing footwear aimed at decreasing slip risk.
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Keywords: footwear; forensic science; friction; slips and falls

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Recreation and Health Care Management, Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, 60, Erh-Jen Rd., Sec. 1, Jen-Te, Tainan, Taiwan. 2: Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and Department of Radiology, University of Southern California, 1540 E. Alcazar St., CHP-155, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9006.

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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