Innovative Female Spine Prototype Revolutionizes Medical Research

Spine Injury

Neuroscience Research Australia’s Transurban Road Safety Centre has designed a prototype lumbar spine for crash test dummies, enhancing the fidelity of collision data for small females and older children. The new spine model is engineered to deliver an authentic replication of bodily reactions under crash forces, particularly for individuals akin to the size of a 12-year-old girl.

The necessity for this innovation stemmed from the insufficiencies of the previous smaller-adult dummy lumbar spine. Being overly rigid, it failed to provide accurate simulations of injury risks, leaving a critical gap in safety research for these vulnerable populations. Both small adult females and older child passengers face increased dangers of abdominal injury during accidents, primarily due to inadequate seat belt sizing and positioning, second only to head trauma in collision vulnerability.

Central to the elevated risk is submarining, a scenario where a person’s pelvis rotates and allows the lap belt to slide up, digging into the soft abdomen during a crash. This type of injury is often aggravated when the victim is seated in a slouched position — a common posture for children and smaller adults given that car seats are predominantly designed for larger individuals.

Through extensive testing with the improved crash test dummy, which now includes the ‘extra bendy’ lumbar spine, researchers observed that the dummy exhibited submarining in situations where it was anticipated, a stark contrast to the results when using the original, stiffer spine.

Source: Transurban

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