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Biomechanical Characterization of Video Recorded Short Distance Falls In Children

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $599,878)

As submitted by the proposer:

Although injuries from accidental falls in children are common, the history of a fall is also the most commonly-stated false scenario provided by caregivers to conceal physical abuse; differentiation between the two is critical for abuse victims and accidentally injured children alike.

Determining biomechanical compatibility of injuries with the reported history is a key aspect in differentiating abuse from accident in clinical and forensic settings, and obtaining truthful convictions in the judicial system. Unfortunately, the lack of evidenced-based data from witnessed short-distance falls has led to disputes when assessing biomechanical compatibility between injuries or fatalities and fall histories.

The goal of this research is to improve accuracy in forensic biomechanical investigations of child abuse that seek to determine whether fatal or severe head injuries can result from pediatric short distance falls. In this project, the researchers will provide evidence-based knowledge regarding injury outcomes and biomechanics of pediatric falls through development of a large knowledge base of video-recorded pediatric short-distance falls with in vivo/in situ head biomechanical data. Fall characteristics, biomechanical data, and injury outcomes will be collected prospectively on children aged 0-3 years whose falls are captured via video monitoring in a childcare center setting. Children will be outfitted with a wearable head-mounted biometric device to assess biomechanical measures (linear and angular head acceleration and velocity) during falls.

Children will be monitored over a one-year period; based on preliminary observations, the researchers anticipate collection of video data on approximately 37,000 falls and biometric data on 6,000 falls.

Specific aims include: (1) characterization of head impact biomechanics; (2) characterization of injury outcomes to determine the rate of severe head injury in the video-recorded pediatric falls; (3) development a predictive model to estimate head impact acceleration and velocity based upon fall, environment, and child characteristics; and (4) development of a searchable web-based knowledge base of videorecorded pediatric short distance falls to facilitate biomechanical assessment of fall history and injury compatibility.

In vivo/in situ biomechanical data and associated injury outcomes from the video-recorded pediatric short distance falls will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and the dataset will be publicly available via the searchable web-based knowledge base.

These outcomes will facilitate evidence-based forensic biomechanical investigations addressing the ongoing controversy of whether short-distance falls can cause fatal or severe head injury; a question that is continually tried in courts of law.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).


Date Created: September 29, 2017