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Stapp Car Crash J. 2010 Nov;54:227-57.

Biomechanical and injury response to posterolateral loading from torso side airbags.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Marquette University 9200 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.


This study characterized thoracoabdominal response to posterolateral loading from a seat-mounted side airbag. Seven unembalmed post-mortem human subjects were exposed to ten airbag deployments. Subjects were positioned such that the deploying airbag first contacted the posterolateral thorax between T6 and L1 while stationary (n = 3 x 2 aspects) or while subjected to left lateral sled impact at ΔV = 6.7 m/s (n = 4). Chestband contours were analyzed to quantify deformation direction in the thoracic x-y plane (zero degrees indicating anterior and 180° indicating posterior), magnitude, rate, and viscous response. Skeletal injuries were consistent with posterolateral contact; visceral injuries consisted of renal (n = 1) or splenic (n = 3) lacerations. Deformation direction was transient during sled impact, progressing from 122 ± 5° at deformation onset to 90° following maximum deflection. Angles from stationary subjects progressed from 141 ± 9° to 120°. Peak normalized deflections, peak rates, and VCmax ranges were 0.075 - 0.171, 3.7 - 12.7 m/s, and 0.3 - 0.6 m/s with stationary airbag, respectively; ranges were 0.167 - 0.297, 7.4 - 18.3 m/s, and 0.7 - 3.0 m/s with airbag sled impact, respectively. Peak deflections were measured at angles between 99° - 135° and 98° - 125° for stationary and dynamic conditions, respectively. Because of deflection angle transience and localized injury response, both posterolateral and lateral injury metrics may be required for this boundary condition. Contrasted with flat rigid or anterolateral loading, biomechanical response to side airbag interaction may be augmented by peak normalized deflection or VCmax at 130°.

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