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J Trauma. 2009 Apr;66(4):1019-29. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31817dac8b.

Assessment of head injury risk associated with feet-first free falls in 12-month-old children using an anthropomorphic test device.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, USA. angela.thompson@louisville.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Short distance falls are a common false history provided in cases of child abuse. Falls are also a common occurrence in ambulating young children. The purpose of this study was to determine the risk of head injury in short distance feet-first free falls for a 12-month-old child.

METHODS:

Feet-first free falls were simulated using an anthropomorphic test device. Three fall heights and five surfaces were tested to determine whether changing fall environment characteristics leads to differences in head injury risk outcomes. Linear head accelerations were measured and angular head accelerations in the anterior-posterior direction were determined. Head injury criteria values and impact durations were also determined for each fall.

RESULTS:

The mean peak linear head acceleration across all trials was 52.2g. HIC15 values were all below the injury assessment reference value. The mean peak angular head acceleration across all trials was 4,246 rad/s2. Impact durations ranged from 12.1 milliseconds to 27.8 milliseconds. In general, head accelerations were greater and impact durations were lower for surfaces with lower coefficients of restitution (a measure of resiliency). In falls onto wood and linoleum over concrete, the ground-based fall was associated with greater accelerations than the two higher fall heights.

CONCLUSIONS:

Results show that fall dynamics play an important role in head injury outcome measures. Different fall heights and impact surfaces led to differences in head injury risk, but the risk of severe head injury across all tested scenarios was low for a 12-month-old child in feet-first free falls.

PMID:
19359909
DOI:
10.1097/TA.0b013e31817dac8b
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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