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Estimation of the height by using hand-span; a clinical forensic study


Tikiri K. M. B. Gunathilake ,

Base Hospital, Awissawella, LK
About Tikiri K. M. B.
Office of the Judicial Medical Officer
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Sithum M. Manjika,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About Sithum M.
Department of Community Medicine
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Muditha Vidanapathirana,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About Muditha
Department of Forensic Medicine
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K. A. P. Siddhisena

University of Colombo, LK
About K. A. P.
Department of Demography
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For identification of the dead, the assessment of height is important. There is a folk knowledge among sculptors that the height is eight times the hand-span. This research was conducted to assess whether there is a relationship between hand-span and heightin adults. 



A cross-sectional study was performed on consented adults attending a provincial hospital. From the hand-span (X) a hypothesis was made. Height= Head (1X)+Trunk (3X)+ Thigh (2X)+ Leg (2X)= 8X. Data were collected from 340 participantsand were analyzed using SPSS-19.



Of the participants 82% (n=279) were females. Ages ranged from 18–74 years (mean 28.8 +/- SD 10.099). Heights ranged from 51-72 inches (mean 62.27 +/-SD3.007). The hand-span ranged from 6-9 inches (mean 7.490 +/-SD 0.587). There is a positive high correlation between hand-span and height (r=0.651) for males whilst a positive moderate correlation (r=0.461) for females (p=0.000). In Regression Analysis, though age was not statistically significant for both males (p=0.539) and females(p=0.477), the F value was significant (p=0.000) and hand-span showed a positive effect on the determination of the height of both males and females even controlling for age. According to Independent Sample T-test, the relationship between means of ‘hand-span x 8’ with gender had a highly statistically significant association (t = 5.325, df = 325 and p=0.000) and the mean values for males was 62.78 with SE +/- 0.51 inches and for the females, the mean was 59.31 with SE +/- 0.28 inches.



The study formulated the following formula. Person’s height=hand-span x 8 +/- SE inches.Further, according to this study, the probable height of a male in inches = hand-span x 8 +/- 0.51 inches. For the females, the probable height in inches = hand-span x 8 +/- 0.28 inches. Finally, a national scale research is recommended.
How to Cite: Gunathilake, T.K.M.B., Manjika, S.M., Vidanapathirana, M. and Siddhisena, K.A.P., 2018. Estimation of the height by using hand-span; a clinical forensic study. Medico-Legal Journal of Sri Lanka, 6(2), pp.64–69. DOI:
Published on 26 Dec 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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