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Biomechanical Characterization of Video Recorded Short Distance Falls in Children

NCJ Number
Date Published
8 pages

The findings and methodology are presented for a research project with the goal of improving accuracy in the forensic examination of fatal or severe head injuries that can result from a child’s short-distance fall, which is often the false claim of caregivers whose abuse of the child caused the injury.


The study provided evidence-based knowledge needed to understand the biomechanics of a child’s fall by using video recordings and in situ biometric measurements of falls at a childcare center. Falls were recorded with video while children equipped with wearable biometric devices were engaged in daily activities in four indoor classrooms and on an outdoor playground. Three video cameras were installed in each monitored space. Biomechanical measures (linear and angular head acceleration and velocity) were obtained with a wearable accelerometer-gyroscope device located within a headband worn by the children. The project’s goal was to capture and analyze 3,000 video-recorded falls and associated biometric data for children between 12-36 months of age. This methodology enabled the capture of fall characteristics, a description of the relationship between child and fall environmental factors, and biomechanical outcomes. A searchable, web-based Pediatric Fall Biomechanics Knowledgebase and estimate of the rate of severe head injuries in short-distance falls was the product. The dataset produced consists of 3,255 video-recorded falls of children in a licensed childcare center. They are described in terms of fall characteristics, child characteristics, and head biomechanics. In addition, the dataset includes screen grabs of fall initiation, mid-fall, and landing time points from video recordings. The Pediatric Fall Biomechanics Knowledgebase will be available online once project manuscripts that describe the dataset have been published. 7 figures and 2 tables

Date Published: January 1, 2021