Kinematic and Injury Response of Reclined PMHS in Frontal Impacts 2020-22-0004
Frontal impacts with reclined occupants are rare but severe, and they are anticipated to become more common with the introduction of vehicles with automated driving capabilities. Computational and physical human surrogates are needed to design and evaluate injury countermeasures for reclined occupants, but the validity of such surrogates in a reclined posture is unknown. Experiments with post-mortem human subjects (PMHS) in a recline posture are needed both to define biofidelity targets for other surrogates and to describe the biomechanical response of reclined occupants in restrained frontal impacts. The goal of this study was to evaluate the kinematic and injury response of reclined PMHS in 30 g, 50 km/h frontal sled tests. Five midsize adult male PMHS were tested. A simplified semi-rigid seat with an anti-submarining pan and a non-production three-point seatbelt (pre-tensioned, force-limited, seat-integrated) were used. Global motions and local accelerations of the head, pelvis, and multiple vertebrae were measured. Seat and seatbelt forces were also measured. Injuries were assessed via post-test dissection. The initial reclined posture aligned body regions (pelvis, lumbar spine, and ribcage) in a way that reduced the likelihood of effective restraint by the seat and seatbelt: the occupant’s pelvis was initially rotated posteriorly, priming the occupant for submarining, and the lumbar spine was loaded in combined compression and bending due to the inertia of the upper torso during forward excursion. Coupled with the high restraining forces of the seat and seatbelt, the unfavorable kinematics resulted in injuries of the sacrum/coccyx (four of five PMHS injured), iliac wing (two of five PMHS injured), lumbar spine (three of five PMHS injured), and ribcage (all five PMHS suffered sternal fractures, and three of five PMHS suffered seven or more rib fractures). The kinematic and injury outcomes strongly motivate the development of injury criteria for the lumbar spine and pelvis, the inclusion of intrinsic variability (e.g., abdomen depth and pelvis shape) in computational simulations of frontal impacts with reclined occupants, and the adaptation of comprehensive restraint paradigms to predicted variability of occupant posture.