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Skull Fracture Patterns from Head Impact in Infants

NCJ Number
Date Published
11 pages

This document reports on a research project to develop a rigorous and validated computational toolset for predicting skull fracture patterns in infants, with the ultimate goal of identifying skull fracture patterns from common low-height accidental falls in infants and evaluating the effect of impact direction and energy, and skull thickness, on fracture patterns.


This final summary document provides the details and results of a research project aimed at developing a rigorous and validated computational toolset for predicting skull fracture patterns in infants. The researchers had four objectives: quantify the mechanical properties of infant and toddler cranial bone and suture at rates similar to head impact; characterize the fracture propagation properties of infant and toddler cranial bone; develop a high-fidelity computational model for predicting crack propagation, and resulting fracture patterns, in infant cranial bone; and test the validity of the model by simulating experimental fracture pattern studies, existing cadaver studies, and well-witnessed accidental falls in infants. Researchers collected fifteen human pediatric cranial bone specimens from nine infant donors, ranging from 32 weeks gestation to 10 months of age. The findings discuss the high-rate material property characterization; fracture mechanics testing, in which the authors note their confirmation that anisotropy of human infant cranial bone is critical to skull fracture pattern predictions; the validation of fracture pattern predictions, in which the authors mention that all fracture predictions resulted in strong similarities to the experimental data, thus providing strong confidence in the ability of the computational framework to capture real-world fracture patterns; and the evaluation of fracture pattern sensitivity to impact angle and fall height.

Date Published: January 1, 2023