The massive number of injuries sustained in trafficaccidents is a growing problem worldwide, especially indeveloping countries. In 1998, more than one million peoplewere killed in traffic accidents worldwide, while about tentimes as many people were injured. Injuries to the centralnervous system and in particular to the headare especiallycritical to human life. This thesis contains five researchpapers looking at head injuries and head protection, proposingnew and more efficient ways of protecting the head, especiallyin traffic accidents.
In order to define the national dimensions of the patternsof injuries incurred in motorcycle and moped accidents inSweden, a statistical survey was performed on data spanning a13-year period (Paper A). In Sweden, 27,100 individualsreceived in-patient care for motorcycle and moped accidentinjuries between 1987 and 1999. The motorcycle and moped injuryrate reduced in the second half of the study period, so toowere the total number of days of treatment per year. Males hadeight times the incidence of injuries of females. Head injurieswere the single most frequent diagnosis, followed by fracturesof the lower limbs. Concussion was the most frequent headinjury. These statistics clearly show the need for better headinjury prevention systems.
According to the statistics, the most common type of impactto the head in motorcycle and moped accidents is an obliqueimpact. Oblique impacts generate rotations of the head, whichare a common cause of the most severe head injuries. Thereforea new test rig was constructed to reproduce oblique impacts toa helmeted dummy head, simulating those occurring in real lifeaccidents (Paper B). The new test rig was shown to provideuseful data at speeds of up to 50 km/h and with impact anglesvarying from purely tangential to purely radial. Thisinnovative test rig appears to provide an accurate method formeasuring accelerations in oblique impacts to helmets.
When testing the performances of motorcycle helmets,discrepancies are usually seen in the test results. In order toevaluate these discrepancies, the finite element method (FEM)was used for simulations of a few oblique helmet impacts (PaperC). Amongthe parameters studied, the coefficients of frictionbetween the impacting surface and the helmet and between thehead and the helmet had the most significant influence on therotational accelerations. Additionally, a thinner andconsequently also weaker shell and a weaker liner, providedbetter protection for the impacts studied.
Since there are no generally accepted global injurythresholds for oblique impacts to the human head, a study wasdesigned to propose new injury tolerances accounting for bothtranslations and rotations of the head (Paper D). In thatstudy, FE models of (a) a human head, (b) a Hybrid III dummyhead, and (c) the experimental helmet were used. Differentcriteria were proposed for different impact scenarios. Both thetranslational and the rotational effects were found to beimportant when proposing a predictor equation for the strainlevels experienced by the human brain in simulated impacts tothe head.
In order to reduce the level of head injuries in society andto better understand helmet impacts from different aspect, aballistic impact was also studied (Paper E). The effects ofdifferent helmet shell stiffness and different angles ofimpacts were simulated. In this study, the same FE head modelfrom Paper D was used, however here it was protected with amodel of a composite ballistic helmet. It was concluded thatthe helmet shell should be stiff enough to prevent the insideof the shell from striking the skull, and that the strainsarising in the brain tissue were higher for some obliqueimpacts than for purely radial ones.
In conclusion, this thesis describes the injury pattern ofmotorcycle and moped accidents in Sweden. This thesis showsthat the injuries sustained from these accidents can bereduced. In order to study both translational as well asrotational impacts, a new laboratory test rig was designed. Byusing the finite element method, it is possible to simulaterealistic impacts to the head and also to predict how severehead injuries may potentially be prevented.
Stockholm: Farkost och flyg , 2003. , ix, 23 p.