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Experimental Investigation of Cranial Fracture Initiation in Blunt Human Head Impacts

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International Volume: 300 Dated: July 2019 Pages: 51-62
Date Published
July 2019
12 pages

Through impact experiments using high-speed video, this study investigates cranial fracture initiation in blunt human head impacts.


The current study used high-speed video to capture cranial fracture initiation and propagation in impact experiments on twelve unembalmed, intact human cadaver heads. The study aimed to assess the relationship between the point of blunt impact and the location of cranial fracture initiation, which continues to be poorly understood. Video footage provided direct evidence that blunt cranial impacts can produce linear fractures initiating peripheral to the impact site. Four tests produced only remote peripheral linear fractures with no damage at the known point of impact, demonstrating that the pattern of linear fractures does not necessarily indicate impact site. The range of variation observed in these experiments suggests that cranial fracture formation is more complex than is typically described in the current literature. Differences in biomechanical and fracture results obtained with three different shaped implements provided evidence that impact surface is one important factor influencing the outcomes of blunt cranial impacts. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: July 1, 2019