Comparison of the Effect of Two Dynamic Loading Rates on Fracture Characteristics of Human Ribs in Bending An Experimental Study

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Angela L. Harden
Yun-Seok Kang
Amanda M. Agnew


Recent years have seen an increase in contributions to the criminal justice system through expert testimony regarding
skeletal trauma analysis and interpretation. In order to scientifically validate skeletal trauma analysis methods and ensure the dependability of interpretations to support expert testimonies, the reliability of generally accepted concepts must be determined. This research focused on the traditional assumption that extrinsic factors influence fracture characteristics in human bone. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of loading rate on fracture characteristics by evaluating the effect of two dynamic loading rates in blunt-force trauma to human ribs. The sample consisted of mid-level human ribs in which fracture characteristics were evaluated in bilateral rib pairs experimentally tested in precisely the same loading scenario (anterior to posterior bending) at different dynamic loading rates. These comparisons demonstrated that the difference between 1 m/s and 2 m/s had no independent influence on fracture characteristics, despite the large difference in impact energy associated with these rates (27.2 J and 108.8 J, respectively). The general assumption that greater impact speed and energy leads to increased injury severity and more complex fracture characteristics was not supported in ribs loaded at 1 m/s versus 2 m/s.

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