Are traditional head size and shape measurements useful in modern medical design? A literature review

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Clinicians and Paxman Coolers Ltd. would like to prevent patients from suffering from chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA), which requires a close-fitting cap. The cephalic index, which is often used for head size analysis in many medical conditions, is insufficient for applications of design.
The authors conducted a detailed literature review on available human head data because access to accurate and up-to-date anthropometric data are crucial for wearable design. The authors conducted this literature review for a project focused on developing a wearable medical cooling cap. The design must be as close-fitting as possible to obtain the highest levels of efficacy. One of the best options for achieving an improved fit is through customised designs. The aims of this literature review was to identify if the current literature on cranial anthropology is sufficient to provide designers with the data required to achieve a mass customisation approach to tailored wearable medical designs for scalp cooling.
In an extensive literature review conducted over the past year between 2020 and 2021 the researchers retrieved more than 175 papers, including journal articles, clinical studies, conference studies, and content from master’s and PhD theses. The research terms used included a systematic review according to Paxman’s critical design inputs for efficacious cap fit. Primary outcome measure were global anthropometric studies in cranial anthropology.
From the 175 studies a collection of relevant papers1,2,3,4,5,6 focused on the human head size data, which had the most impactfil influence on this study, including studies such as SizeChina, Caesar, Gayre’s race studies, and some of the research team’s published literature.
The literature review revealed shortcomings with traditional ways to measure human head size and the challenges of using them for mass customisation of scalp cooling caps. More data, including individual data, are required for mass customisation. Designing scalp cooling caps to be effective for all head sizes and shapes requires an elevated level of design complexity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-506
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Health Design
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2022


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