Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $564,875)
As submitted by the proposer:
Blunt force trauma is considered one of the most common forms of homicide worldwide. Blows to the head are often involved, and cranial fractures are a typical finding. In medicolegal death investigations, current techniques for interpreting cranial trauma are often brought into question, as there are limited experimental data that describe mechanisms of cranial fracture. Questions asked of forensic experts typically relate to: (1) the point(s) of impact; (2) the minimum number of blows; (3) the sequence of impacts; (4) the implement involved; and (5) the amount of force and energy used.
The proposed research will address a significant gap in best practice by developing mechanistic-based experimental data that will begin to answer the above questions using fresh, adult human cadaveric heads. In this effort, cadaver heads will be subjected to blunt force trauma, causing cranial fractures that will be recorded in time with high-speed photography. The locations of fracture initiation and propagation will be documented in these experimental studies. The investigation aims to show that patterns of fracture will depend on input energy, point of impact, number of blows, as well as implement used to impact. If the proposed aims are achieved, the study will serve as groundbreaking work that begins to build a science of cranial fracture for medicolegal death investigation experts to more accurately interpret adult cranial trauma. This proposal brings together a team of researchers from established laboratories in forensic anthropology and orthopaedic biomechanics at Michigan State University to work on this gap in best practice.
This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.