Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Bertocci, Gina E.


Infants--Wounds and injuries; Falls (Accidents); Neck--Wounds and injuries; Head--Wounds and injuries


The purpose of this study was to determine the risk of severe head and neck injury in short distance falls for a 12-month-old child. A series of free falls and falls from standing were experimentally simulated using an instrumented anthropomorphic test device (ATD) representing a 12-month-old child. Three different falls heights, five different impact surfaces, and two levels of joint stiffness were tested to determine their effect on injury risk. Linear head accelerations were measured and angular head accelerations were calculated using the base of the neck as the pivot point. Head Injury Criteria (HIC) values and impact durations were also determined for each fall. Neck loads were measured and used to compute Nij values to be compared with injury thresholds. The falls from standing generally were associated with a greater head injury risk than the free falls. In the free falls, ground-based falls were associated with a greater head injury risk than the higher fall heights tested. However, for the falls from standing, greater falls heights were associated with a greater head injury risk. Head injury risk also increased with stiffer surfaces and was greater for tightened joints than for joints adjusted to normal specifications. Neck injury risk also tended to increase with greater fall heights, stiffer surfaces, and increasing joint stiffness. However, the risk of severe head or neck injury was low for all fall scenarios evaluated using a 12-month-old ATD. The results of this study may aid clinicians in distinguishing between accidental and inflicted injuries (for which falls are a common excuse) by predicting the likelihood of a particular injury occurring in a certain type of fall.