• N. Stewart Pritchard Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA; School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Virginia Tech - Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, USA
  • Jillian E. Urban Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA
  • Logan E. Miller Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA; School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Virginia Tech - Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, USA
  • Laura Lintner Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA
  • Joel D. Stitzel Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, USA



head impact exposure, gymnastics, concussion, head injury


Concussions in gymnastics have scarcely been researched; however, current evidence suggests that concussion rates may be higher than previously reported due to underreporting among coaches, athletes, and parents. The purpose of this study was to outline a method for collecting head impact data in gymnastics, and to provide the first measurements of head impact exposure within gymnastics. Three optional level women’s artistic gymnasts (ages 11-16) were instrumented with a mouthpiece sensor that measured linear acceleration, rotational velocity, and rotational acceleration of the head during contact and aerial phases of skills performed during practice. Peak linear acceleration, peak rotational velocity, peak rotational acceleration, duration, and time to peak linear
acceleration were calculated from sensor data. Kinematic data was time-synchronized to video and then sensor data was segmented into contact scenarios and skills characterized by the event rotation, apparatus, landing mat type, skill type, skill phase, landing stability, and body region contacted. The instrumented gymnasts were exposed to 1,394 contact scenarios (41 per gymnast per session), of which 114 (3.9 per gymnast per session) contained head contact. Peak kinematics varied across skill type, apparatuses, and landing mats. The median duration of impacts with head contact (177 ms) was longer than measured impacts in youth and collegiate level soccer. Results from this study help provide a foundation for future research that may seek to examine head impact exposure within gymnastics to better inform concussion prevention and post-concussion return to play protocols within the sport.


Download data is not yet available.


Ackland, T., Elliott, B., & Richards, J. (2003). Gymnastics: Growth in body size affects rotational performance in women’s gymnastics. Sports Biomechanics, 2(2), 163–176.

Beck, G. R., Rabinovitch, P., & Brown, A. C. (1979). Acceleration forces at eye level experienced with rotation on the horizontal bar. Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory, Environmental and Exercise Physiology, 46(6), 1119–1121.

Bryan, M. A., Rowhani-Rahbar, A., Comstock, R. D., Rivara, F., & Bryan, M. (2016). Sports-and Recreation-Related Concussions in US Youth. Pediatrics, 138(1), 20154635.

Burt, L., Naughton, G., & Landeo, R. (2007). Quantifying Impacts During Beam and Floor Training in Pre-Adolescent Girls From Two Streams of Artistic Gymnastics. XXV ISBS Symposium, 354–357.

Buzas, D., Jacobson, N. A., & Morawa, L. G. (2014). Concussions From 9 Youth Organized Sports. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 2(4).

Caine, D., Knutzen, K., Howe, W., Keeler, L., Sheppard, L., Henrichs, D., & Fast, J. (2003). A three-year epidemiological study of injuries affecting young female gymnasts. Physical Therapy in Sport, 4(1), 10–23.

Cobb, B. R., Urban, J. E., Davenport, E. M., Rowson, S., Duma, S. M., Maldjian, J. A., … Stitzel, J. D. (2013). Head impact exposure in youth football: Elementary school ages 9-12 years and the effect of practice structure. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 41(12), 2463–2473.

Kane, J. W. O., Levy, M. R., Pietila, K. E., Caine, D. J., & Schiff, M. A. (2011). Survey of Injuries in Seattle Area Levels 4 to 10 Female Club Gymnasts. 21(6), 486–492.

King, M. A., & Yeadon, M. R. (2004). Maximising somersault rotation in tumbling. Journal of Biomechanics, 37(4), 471–477.

Knight, D., Dewitt, R., & Moser, S. (2016). Mild traumatic brain injury in a gymnast. JAAPA : Official Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, 29(7), 30–34.

Lincoln, A. E., Caswell, S. V, Almquist, J. L., Dunn, R. E., Norris, J. B., & Hinton, R. Y. (2011). Trends in Concussion Incidence in High School Sports: A prospective 11-year Study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(5).

Mannings, C., Kalynych, C., Joseph, M. M., Smotherman, C., & Kraemer, D. F. (2014). Knowledge assessment of sports-related concussion among parents of children aged 5 years to 15 years enrolled in recreational tackle football. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 77, S18–S22.

Marshall, S. W., Covassin, T., Dick, R., Nassar, L. G., & Agel, J. (2007). Descriptive Epidemiology of Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System. Journal of Athletic Training, 42(2), 234–240.

McCuen, E., Svaldi, D., Breedlove, K., Kraz, N., Cummiskey, B., Breedlove, E. L., … Nauman, E. A. (2015). Collegiate women’s soccer players suffer greater cumulative head impacts than their high school counterparts. Journal of Biomechanics, 48(13), 3720–3723.

McNitt-Gray, J. L., Yokoi, T., & Millward, C. (2016). Landing Strategies Used by Gymnasts on Different Surfaces. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 10(3), 237–252.

Mcnitt-Gray, J. L., Yokoi, T., Millward, C., Gray, L. M., Yokoi, T., & Millward, C. (1993). Landing Strategy Adjustments Made by Female Gymnasts in Response to Drop Height and Mat Composition. Qriiginal Investigatiiqns Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 9, 173–190.

Meehan, W. P., Mannix, R. C., OʼBrien, M. J., & Collins, M. W. (2013). The Prevalence of Undiagnosed Concussions in Athletes. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 23(5), 339–342.

Miller, L. E., Kuo, C., Wu, L. C., Urban, J. E., Camarillo, D. B., & Stitzel, J. D. (2018). Validation of a Custom Instrumented Retainer Form Factor for Measuring Linear and Angular Head Impact Kinematics. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 140(5), 054501.

Miller, L. E., Pinkerton, E. K., Fabian, K. C., Wu, L. C., Espeland, M. A., Lamond, L. C., … Urban, J. E. (2019). Characterizing head impact exposure in youth female soccer with a custom-instrumented mouthpiece. Research in Sports Medicine, 0(0), 1–17.

Miller, L. E., Urban, J. E., Whelan, V. M., Baxter, W. W., Tatter, S. B., & Stitzel, J. D. (2019). An envelope of linear and rotational head motion during everyday activities. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology.

Mills, C., Yeadon, M. R., & Pain, M. T. G. (2010). Modifying landing mat material properties may decrease peak contact forces but increase forefoot forces in gymnastics landings. Sports Biomechanics, 9(3), 153–164.

Press, J. N., & Rowson, S. (2017). Quantifying Head Impact Exposure in Collegiate Womenʼs Soccer. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 27(2), 104–110.

Rich, A. M., Filben, T. M., Miller, L. E., Tomblin, B. T., Van Gorkom, A. R., Hurst, M. A., … Stitzel, J. D. (2019). Development, Validation and Pilot Field Deployment of a Custom Mouthpiece for Head Impact Measurement. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 47(10), 2109–2121.

Rowson, S., & Duma, S. M. (2013). Brain Injury Prediction : Assessing the Combined Probability of Concussion Using Linear and Rotational Head Acceleration. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 41(5), 873–882.

Urban, J. E., Davenport, E. D., Golman, A. J., Maldjian, J. A., Whitlow, C. T., Powers, A. K., & Stitzel, J. D. (2013). Head Impact Exposure in Youth Football: High School Ages 14 to 18 Years and Cumulative Impact Analysis. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 41(12), 2474–2487.

Wu, L. C., Nangia, V., Bui, K., Hammoor, B., Kurt, M., Kuo, C., & Camarillo, D. B. (2016). In Vivo Evaluation of Wearable Head Impact Sensors. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 44(4), 1234–1245.







How to Cite

Pritchard, N. S., E. Urban, J., Miller, L. E., Lintner, L., & Stitzel, J. D. (2020). AN ANALYSIS OF HEAD KINEMATICS IN WOMEN’S ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 12(3), 229-242.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 170

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.