This review was prepared for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Lissner Medal. It specifically discusses research performed in the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratories on pediatric cranial bone mechanics and patterns of fracture in collaboration with the Forensic Anthropology Laboratory at Michigan State University. Cranial fractures are often an important element seen by forensic anthropologists during the investigation of pediatric trauma cases litigated in courts. While forensic anthropologists and forensic biomechanists are often called on to testify in these cases, there is little basic science developed in support of their testimony. The following is a review of studies conducted in the above laboratories and supported by the National Institute of Justice to begin an understanding of the mechanics and patterns of pediatric cranial bone fracture. With the lack of human pediatric specimens, the studies utilize an immature porcine model. Because much case evidence involves cranial bone fracture, the studies described below focus on determining input loading based on the resultant bone fracture pattern. The studies involve impact to the parietal bone, the most often fractured cranial bone, and begin with experiments on entrapped heads, progressing to those involving free-falling heads. The studies involve head drops onto different types and shapes of interfaces with variations of impact energy. The studies show linear fractures initiating from sutural boundaries, away from the impact site, for flat surface impacts, in contrast to depressed fractures for more focal impacts. The results have been incorporated into a “Fracture Printing Interface (FPI),” using machine learning and pattern recognition algorithms. The interface has been used to help interpret mechanisms of injury in pediatric death cases collected from medical examiner offices. The ultimate aim of this program of study is to develop a “Human Fracture Printing Interface” that can be used by forensic investigators in determining mechanisms of pediatric cranial bone fracture.

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