A Pilot study examining instinctive and natural body movements during simulated assaults: developing a new approach to physical intervention skills in health and social care settings

Richard Luck, John Parkes, Philip Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


There are a significant number of providers of aggression management physical intervention skills within the UK. Techniques are often numerous in number and neither natural or instinctive. Techniques that are not natural or instinctive hamper retention of techniques and may actively aid attrition form
memory. The inability to recall and apply taught techniques increases risks to health and social care practitioners. Techniques that are natural and instinctive and limited in number will be more effectively taught and retained by participants in training so that recall at the point of need is immediate. Further,
many techniques taught are reliant on the victim of the assault engaging with the aggressor.

The aim of the pilot study was to examine the natural and instinctive body movement used by humans when faced with simulated assault. A pilot sample of 15 participants was utilized taken from the student body, participants had to be physically and psychologically well, and have had no previous
training in aggression management techniques either healthcare or analogous sports related training i.e. boxing martial arts etc. Students were filmed using Vicon 3D body mapping software whilst averting a simulated assault by a member of the research team. the simulated assault took the form of the researcher attempting to touch the participant in a range of areas of the body similar to those areas identified in standard breakaway/disengagement skills. Participants had Vicon reflective strips placed on key areas
of the body. Three Basler high speed cameras were placed around the recording area and one above recording participants body movements.
Vicon 3D video mapping system utilizes Vicon Motus 7 software to analysis body movement and compares participant’s movements generating themes. Initial findings indicate the whole body movement is important and males and females move in exactly the same way. Further analysis utilizing the software will be available by the time of the conference. Initial finding indicate that full body
movement during the simulated assault aids the victim in averting assaults, and that both males and females respond in similar manners to simulated assaults.
At this stage of the study there are no clear conclusions as we are analyzing data in the coming weeks, however at the point of the conference we will be able to give participants a full over view of the results and provide recommendations for further studies using this same software and technological approach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViolence in Clinical Psychiatry
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 9th European Congress on Violence in Psychiatry
EditorsPatrick Callaghan, Nico Oud, Johan Håkon Bjørngaard, Henk Nijman, Tom Palmstierna, Joy Duxbury
Place of PublicationThe Netherlands
Number of pages2
ISBN (Print)978-90-574-0144-2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event9th European Congress on Violence in Clinical Psychiatry - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 22 Oct 201524 Oct 2015
Conference number: 9


Conference9th European Congress on Violence in Clinical Psychiatry
Internet address


  • Training
  • Physical Intervention Skills
  • Breakaways
  • Disengagement
  • Aggression
  • Violence
  • Assault


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