Browse Publications Technical Papers 2022-22-0002

Obese Occupant Response in Reclined and Upright Seated Postures in Frontal Impacts 2022-22-0002

The American population is getting heavier and automated vehicles will accommodate unconventional postures. While studies replicating mid-size and upright fore-aft seated occupants are numerous, experiments with post-mortem human subjects (PMHS) with obese and reclined occupants are sparse. The objective of this study was to compare the kinematics of the head-neck, torso and pelvis, and document injuries and injury patterns in frontal impacts. Six PMHS with a mean body mass index of 38.2 ± 5.3 kg/m2 were equally divided between upright and reclined groups (seatback: 23°, 45°), restrained by a three-point integrated belt, positioned on a semi-rigid seat, and exposed to low and moderate velocities (15, 32 km/h). Data included belt loads, spinal accelerations, kinematics, and injuries from x-rays, computed tomography, and necropsy. At 15 km/h speed, no significant difference in the occupant kinematics and evidence of orthopedic failure was observed. At 32 km/h speed, the primary difference between the cohorts was significantly larger Z displacements in the reclined occupant at the head (190 ± 32 mm, vs. 105 ± 33 mm p < 0.05) and femur (52 ± 18 mm vs. 30 ± 10 mm, p < 0.05). All the moderate-speed tests produced at least one thorax injury. Rib fractures were scattered around the circumference of the rib-cage in the upright, while they were primarily concentrated on the anterior aspect of the rib-cage in two reclined specimens. Although MAIS was the same in both groups, the reclined specimens had more bi-cortical rib fractures, suggesting the potential for pneumothorax. While not statistical, these results suggest enhanced injuries with reclined obese occupants. These results could serve as a data set for validating the response of restrained obese anthropometric test device (ATDs) and computational human body models.


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