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Lower extremity injuries in side-impact vehicle crashes


Lower extremity (LE) fractures and dislocations resulting from car crashes are costly and debilitating. In particular, occupant safety regulations for side-impact crashes are deficient in protecting the knee, lower leg and ankle/foot. Hence further side-impact research is required to understand injury mechanisms of these parts of the LE. In addition, side-impact dummies so far cannot measure forces and injury criteria in these lower parts of the LE. The aim of this paper is to identify and characterise LE fractures and dislocation injuries in side-imacts and propose some injury mechanisms. There appears to be some consensus on mechanisms describing how fractures and/or dislocations of the LE occur in frontal crashes. However, as far as the authors are aware, the mechanisms for side-impact have yet to be described and published. This paper presents some preliminary results of case studies of LE injuries incurred in vehicles subjected to side-impact crashes in Australia between 1989 and 2002. A summary of the findings to date is presented. Three basic injury mechanisms have been identified. They are: (1) Intrusion causing entrapment resulting from leg area volume reduction with a bending side-force, acting alone or together; (2) High-energy, side-impact, striking force resulting from being in direct contact with the struck portion of the vehicle; and (3) Inertial movement of the body causing loading of the LE resulting from its interaction with the vehicle interior and where intrusion is not the cause of the injury. This paper also proposes some injury mitigation strategies.

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Arndt, N., Grzebieta, R.H. Lower extremity injuries in side-impact vehicle crashes. International Journal of Crashworthiness 8, 495–512 (2003).

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  • Vehicle Crashworthiness
  • Side Impacts
  • Lower Limb Injuries
  • Lower Leg Fractures and Dislocations