Rib fracture timing in dynamic belt tests with human cadavers



The purpose of this article is to present data from dynamic belt loading tests on the thorax of human cadavers where the exact timing of all rib fractures is known. To quantify rib fracture timing, a total of 47 strain gages were placed throughout the thorax of two human cadavers (one male, one female). To simulate thoracic loading observed in a severe car crash, a custom table-top belt loading device was developed. The belt loading pulse was configured to result in approximately 40% chest compression during a 150 ms load and unload cycle. The time histories of each strain gage were analyzed to determine the time of each rib fracture which was then directly compared with the reaction loads and chest displacements at that exact time, thereby creating a noncensored data set. In both cadavers, all rib fractures occurred within the first 35% compression of the thorax. As a general trend, fractures on the left side of the thorax, where the passenger belt passed over the abdomen, occurred first followed by fractures to the upper ribs on the right side of the thorax. By utilizing this technique, the exact timing of each injury level can be characterized relative to the mechanical parameters. For example, using rib fractures as the parameter for Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) scores in the female test, it was shown that AIS 1 injury occurred at a chest compression of 21.1%, AIS 2 at 21.6%, AIS 3 at 22.0%, and AIS 4 at 33.3%. Clin. Anat. 24:327–338, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.