New research from MultiSim’s academics based at Insigneo and Sheffield Children’s hospitals looks into the strength of children’s bones, which could help in the design of safer car seats.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have successfully used medical imaging and computer modeling & simulations to testthe strength of young children’s bones, producing results which could help car seat manufacturers design safer car seats for young children.
The study, the first on infant bone strength in relation to age/weight using models developed from modern medical images, has now been published in the Journal of Biomechanics and Modelling in Mechanobiology.
The research used CT scans – x-rays to take detailed pictures of the bones from different angles – and subsequent computer models to set up scenarios looking at how a different amount of force affects the bones, bending and twisting the bones to detect the breaking point.
These non-invasive techniques created 3D models of the femur (thigh bone) in the study of children’s bones in the newborn to three-year-old age range.
This is the age range that has had the least research conducted previously but also the ages where children can’t talk or communicate effectively about how their injury occurred. There is also a period of rapid growth between these ages and the researchers were able to determine how bones developed during this time and how bone strength changed.
Protection has improved significantly since the introduction of car seats but car accidents are still a leading cause of life threatening injury in children. Computer aided engineering is an essential part of vehicle development and safety assessments are increasingly relying on simulations. Therefore, it is vital that the correct simulations, using accurate models, are used to ensure optimum safety.
Current testing for car seats in simulated crash tests often use scaled down models of adults to simulate a child in a given situation. However, anatomically, a toddler has a very different bone structure to an adult – the bones are not fully formed and still growing.
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