International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 499–508 | Cite as

Maximum striking velocities in strikes with steel rods—the influence of rod length, rod mass and volunteer parameters

  • T. X. Trinh
  • S. Heinke
  • C. Rode
  • S. Schenkl
  • M. Hubig
  • G. Mall
  • Holger Muggenthaler
Original Article


In blunt force trauma to the head caused by attacks with blunt instruments, contact forces can be estimated based on the conservation of momentum if impact velocities are known. The aims of this work were to measure maximum striking velocities and to examine the influence of rod parameters such as rod mass and length as well as volunteer parameters such as sex, age, body height, body mass, body mass index and the average amount of physical exercise. Steel rods with masses of 500, 1000 and 1500 g as well as lengths of 40, 65 and 90 cm were exemplarily tested as blunt instruments. Twenty-nine men and 22 women participated in this study. Each volunteer performed several vertical strikes with the steel rods onto a passive immobile target. Maximum striking velocities were measured by means of a Qualisys motion capture system using high-speed cameras and infrared light. Male volunteers achieved maximum striking velocities between 14.0 and 35.5 m/s whereas female volunteers achieved values between 10.4 and 28.3 m/s. Results show that maximum striking velocities increased with smaller rod masses and less consistently with higher rod lengths. Statistically significant influences were found in the volunteers’ sex and average amount of physical exercise.


Forensic biomechanics Blunt force Striking velocities Motion analysis 


Compliance with ethical standards

The ethical committee of the University Hospital Jena gave approval to conduct this study.

Supplementary material

414_2017_1734_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 11577 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Legal Medicine, Jena University HospitalFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Motionscience, Institute of Sport SciencesFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany

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