Accuracy and reliability of a dynamic biomechanical skin measuremeat probe for the analysis of stiffness and viscoelasticity

Elizabeth K. Dawes-Higgs*, Michael V. Swain, Robin J E D Higgs, Richard C. Appleyard, Steven Kossard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


A novel instrument has been devised for the in vivo examination of the dynamic biomechanical properties of skin. These properties include stiffness and viscoelasticity. The advantage of the device is its ability to examine the skin dynamically, thereby eliminating preconditioning effects. Furthermore, it is portable, hand-held and easy to operate in the clinical environment. The objective of this study was to determine the accuracy and reliability of the dynamic biomechanical skin measurement (DBSM) probe. The accuracy was determined by examining a series of silicone elastomer specimens. A comparison of the shear modulus (G*), obtained from a static indentation system, with stiffness, obtained from the DBSM probe, was performed. The reliability was determined by examining both silicone elastomers and forearm volar skin in vivo. In both cases assessment was by six different operators (inter-reliability) and also by an individual operator (intra-reliability). Statistical analysis was performed using Levene's test of homogeneity and analysis of variance to ascertain if there were significant differences between operators (inter-reliability) and with one individual operator (intra-reliability). It can be concluded, from this study, that the DBSM probe is accurate (R2 = 0.96, p = 0.01). It is also inter- and intra-reliable when assessing elastomer stiffness and skin stiffness. However, phase lag was not found to be a useful indicator of device reliability. It is anticipated that this device will be used to examine dermatological conditions and the benefits, or otherwise, of treatment. The DBSM probe promises to contribute to the objective measurement of physical properties of the skin in future investigative studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanical properties
  • Skin
  • Viscoelasticity


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