Sensitivity of Head and Cervical Spine Injury Measures to Impact Factors Relevant to Rollover Crashes

<div><p><b>Objective:</b> Serious head and cervical spine injuries have been shown to occur mostly independent of one another in pure rollover crashes. In an attempt to define a dynamic rollover crash test protocol that can replicate serious injuries to the head and cervical spine, it is important to understand the conditions that are likely to produce serious injuries to these 2 body regions. The objective of this research is to analyze the effect that impact factors relevant to a rollover crash have on the injury metrics of the head and cervical spine, with a specific interest in the differentiation between independent injuries and those that are predicted to occur concomitantly.</p><p><b>Methods:</b> A series of head impacts was simulated using a detailed finite element model of the human body, the Total HUman Model for Safety (THUMS), in which the impactor velocity, displacement, and direction were varied. The performance of the model was assessed against available experimental tests performed under comparable conditions. Indirect, kinematic-based, and direct, tissue-level, injury metrics were used to assess the likelihood of serious injuries to the head and cervical spine.</p><p><b>Results:</b> The performance of the THUMS head and spine in reconstructed experimental impacts compared well to reported values. All impact factors were significantly associated with injury measures for both the head and cervical spine. Increases in impact velocity and displacement resulted in increases in nearly all injury measures, whereas impactor orientation had opposite effects on brain and cervical spine injury metrics. The greatest cervical spine injury measures were recorded in an impact with a 15° anterior orientation. The greatest brain injury measures occurred when the impactor was at its maximum (45°) angle.</p><p><b>Conclusions:</b> The overall kinetic and kinematic response of the THUMS head and cervical spine in reconstructed experiment conditions compare well with reported values, although the occurrence of fractures was overpredicted. The trends in predicted head and cervical spine injury measures were analyzed for 90 simulated impact conditions. Impactor orientation was the only factor that could potentially explain the isolated nature of serious head and spine injuries under rollover crash conditions. The opposing trends of injury measures for the brain and cervical spine indicate that it is unlikely to reproduce the injuries simultaneously in a dynamic rollover test.</p></div>