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Biomechanical Studies on Patterns of Cranial Bone Fracture Using the Immature Porcine Model

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2017
11 pages
Prepared for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Lissner Medal, this article discusses research performed in the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratories on pediatric cranial bone mechanics and patterns of fracture, which was done in collaboration with the Forensic Anthropology Laboratory at Michigan State University.
Cranial fractures are often observed by forensic anthropologists during the investigation of pediatric trauma cases litigated in courts. Although forensic anthropologists and forensic biomechanists are often called on to testify in these cases, there is little basic science that has been developed in support of their testimony. This article reviews studies conducted in the aforementioned laboratories, supported by the National Institute of Justice in an effort to improve understanding of the mechanics and patterns of pediatric cranial bone fracture. Given the lack of human pediatric specimens, the studies reviewed used an immature porcine model. Because much case evidence involves cranial bone fracture, the studies described focus on determining input loading based on the resultant bone fracture pattern. The focus was on impact to the parietal bone, which is the most often fractured cranial bone. Experiments were done on entrapped heads, progressing to those involving free-falling heads. The studies involved head drops onto different types and shapes of interfaces with variations of impact energy. The studies show linear fractures initiating from sutural boundaries away from the impact site for flat surface impacts, in contrast to depressed fractures for more focal impacts. Study results have been incorporated into a “Fracture Printing Interface (FPI),” using machine learning and pattern recognition algorithms. The interface has been used to interpret mechanisms of injury in pediatric death cases collected from medical examiner offices. The ultimate aim of this project is to develop a “Human Fracture Printing Interface” that can be used by forensic investigators in determining mechanisms of pediatric cranial bone fracture. 1 figure (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017