Occupant thorax response variations due to arm position and restraint systems in side impact crash scenarios

Accid Anal Prev. 2017 Sep;106:173-180. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2017.05.017. Epub 2017 Jun 14.


Recent epidemiological studies have identified that thoracic side airbags may vary in efficacy to reduce injury severity in side impact crash scenarios, while previous experimental and epidemiological studies have presented contrasting results. This study aimed to quantify the variations in occupant response in side impact conditions using a human body computational model integrated with a full vehicle model. The model was analyzed for a Moving Deformable Barrier side impact at 61km/h to assess two pre-crash arm positions, the incorporation of a seatbelt, and a thorax air bag on thorax response. The occupant response was evaluated using chest compression, the viscous criterion and thoracic spinal curvature. The arm position accounted for largest changes in the thorax response (106%) compared to the presence of the airbag and seatbelt systems (75%). It was also noted that the results were dependant on the method and location of thorax response measurement and this should be investigated further. Assessment using lateral displacement of the thoracic spine correlated positively with chest compression and Viscous Criterion, with the benefit of evaluating whole thorax response and provides a useful metric to compare occupant response for different side impact safety systems. The thoracic side airbag was found to increase the chest compression for the driving arm position (+70%), and reduced the injury metrics for the vertical arm position (-17%). This study demonstrated the importance of occupant arm position on variability in thoracic response, and provides insight for future design and optimization of side impact safety systems.

Keywords: Finite element models; Human body model; Passive restraints; Pre-crash position; Side airbag; Side impact crash; Thoracic airbag; Thorax response.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Air Bags*
  • Arm
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Manikins
  • Posture*
  • Seat Belts
  • Thoracic Injuries / physiopathology*