Childhood injuries can seem random, senseless and incomprehensible. At the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP), our engineers are pinpointing and assessing the causes of these injuries to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. The goal of our scientists is to translate field data and laboratory testing into improved products for children.

Following deliberate identification of issues through the Center's surveillance methods, engineers translate real-world data into computer models and laboratory tests that simulate real world injury events so that additional scenarios can be explored. The end result is industry-relevant information and increased clinical knowledge.

There are three dimensions to the Center's engineering approach:

  • Human factors engineering, which involves the study of factors and development of tools that facilitate the human interaction with systems in a safe and efficient way.
  • Pediatric biomechanics research, which provides quantitative data on how children respond to forces and accelerations experienced in injury- causing events, such as motor-vehicle crashes.
  • Computational modeling, in which the Center's computational engineers create multidimensional computer models that replicate a child and his kinematics in injury events, based on the real world results explored in field investigation and the injury biomechanics laboratory.

The Center's engineers provide valuable insights to vehicle and restraint manufacturers, as well as federal regulating agencies, as to ways to improve product designs to better protect children.

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Human Factors Engineering

Human Factors research at CIRP examines behaviors, emotions, beliefs, and preferences of young drivers. We collect objective evidence on how drivers handle traffic situations and identify intervention strategies for improving their knowledge and skills. Our research is conducted to resolve real-world issues while contributing to theoretical advancement.

We house an advanced driving simulator, which allows us to simulate a variety of dynamic traffic and roadway situations and study the effects of distractions, such as conversing on a cell phone and driving with passengers, on driver behavior. A portable eye-tracker further provides information on how drivers scan the environment and maintain situational awareness. We also design interventions that target the missing skills of young drivers and deliver the educational materials in an engaging and interactive way through online games.

The second site for CChIPS housed within the Injury Biomechanics Research Center at the Ohio State University has expanded its research efforts to encompass human factors engineering topics as well. Recent project proposals have focused on evaluating quantitative measures to understand customer concerns and issues with safety devices. In addition, projects focusing on comfort analysis with respect to safety devices have been implemented, in order to better understand the topics that may cause the public to make choices against recommended guidelines.

Pediatric Biomechanics

Pediatric biomechanics research at the Center is conducted to fill critical gaps in quantitative data on the response of children to crash or other injury forces. Research into the biomechanics of pediatric injury and children’s tolerance for withstanding forces of impact has been extremely limited to date. The need for this type of data is heightened by recent federal legislation and rulemaking focused on defining unique needs of children’s safety, due-care efforts by the safety industry, and increasing consumer demand for safety. Our biomechanics research enhances our understanding of the mechanisms of pediatric injury, and provides a solid experimental foundation for the development of improved injury prevention technology. Specifically, the objectives of this research are to:

  • Develop improved injury assessment devices and techniques
  • Facilitate the design of technical interventions to prevent or reduce the severity of injury
  • Determine mechanisms of injury so that diagnoses and treatment can be enhanced

Housed in a children’s hospital, our research team has access to extensive, non-invasive radiological data, and uses it to understand the geometric structure of children’s developing bodies. In particular, the significant material and structural changes that occur throughout the body during normal human development are well documented by advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scans performed at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and these developmental changes contribute to differences in a child’s response to injury compared to that of the adult.

While understanding the geometric aspects of the child is important, biomechanical experiments are necessary to understand how the developmental changes in the body influence traumatic injury. Since social and ethical considerations preclude conducting crash-speed testing with actual children, the Center conducts kinematics tests to determine how children’s bodies respond to sub-injurious forces, based upon children’s everyday athletic and amusement activities. The Center has also leveraged their position as engineering researchers within a children’s hospital by studying clinical events in the hospital that translate into discoveries in pediatric biomechanics.

The CChIPS site at the Ohio State University has a mission to expand the sports injury biomechanics thrust within CChIPS. The IBRC is dedicated to multi-disciplinary research to understand the risk, prevention, and mechanism of human injury by investigating the biomechanics of injury; differentiating environmental versus biological predictors of injury; and influencing human behavior for prevention of injury.

Researchers affiliated with CChIPS at the Ohio State University have expertise in designing experiments with pediatric subject volunteers to understand the biomechanical response of various systems within the body. For example, recent studies have isolated the mechanical response of the pediatric shoulder and pediatric ankle. In addition, the IBRC focuses on high-speed impact testing of anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs) to understand the effects of various inputs on injury prediction.

Computational Modeling

Mathematical models and computer simulations have proven to be effective in injury prevention and research, as it allows for the exploration of many more scenarios than could be explored with human subjects. In addition, the use of anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs), or crash test dummies, in physical crash tests is expensive and provides data for a single mode of impact at a time. Computational modeling research at the Center focuses on understanding complex physical and biological systems and their behaviors using an array of finite element (FE) models and rigid body models of the human body, ATD and vehicle. Using mathematical analysis, modeling and simulations, the computational engineers' research approach complements traditional laboratory based research methods utilized by the Center's other researchers.

A number of "what if" situations can be analyzed using this methodology. These iterations aid researchers in visualizing and understanding the mechanisms of occupant injuries and their interactions with the restraint systems. Findings may then be used for the design of new products to mitigate the risk of injury.

About This Center

This Center is made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) which unites CHOP, University of Pennsylvania, and The Ohio State University researchers with R&D leaders in the automotive and insurance industries to translate research findings into tangible innovations in safety technology and public education programs.

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