The Effect of Impact Angle on Knee Tolerance to Rigid Impacts
While the number of deaths from vehicle accidents is declining, probably because of mandatory seat belt laws and air bags, a high frequency of lower extremity injuries from frontal crashes still occurs. For the years 1979-1995 the National Accident Sampling System (NASS) indicates that knee injuries (AIS 1-4) occur in approximately 10% of cases. Patella and femur fractures are the most frequent knee injuries. Current literature suggests that knee fractures occur in seated cadavers for knee impact forces of 7.3 to 21.0 kN. Experimental data shown in a study by Melvin et al. (1975) further suggests that fracture tolerance of the knee may be reduced for an impact directed obliquely to the axis of the femur. The current study hypothesized that the patella is more vulnerable to fracture from an oblique versus an axial impact (directed along the femoral axis), and that the fracture pattern would vary with impact direction.