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The Importance of Biomechanics in a Case Involving Head Injuries

Home » The Importance of Biomechanics in a Case Involving Head Injuries
March 14, 2019
Edward Smith

The Importance of Biomechanics in a Case Involving Head Injuries

Claims related to personal injury generally involve testimonies or considered opinion of multiple professionals. Particularly, in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) case, it is usually necessary to have a medical expert who will determine the long-term impact of the injury for the victim, an engineer to recreate the crash scenario and a biomechanics specialist who can establish a relationship between the head injury and the crash.

Key Inquiries

Let us take a close look at what it takes to become a biomechanist or a biomechanical engineer and what role they may have in establishing a personal injury claim. Read on to know how helmet evidence and medical records are used to determine the location of head impact and how a biomechanical engineer reconstructs a helmeted head impact on determining the severity of the brain injury.

Who is the Right Expert?

The forensic analysis of a car accident usually begins with a reconstruction of the collision. The reconstruction engineer relies on several factors to quantify the severity of a collision and vehicle dynamics, such as:

  • Vehicle photographs
  • Vehicle and scene inspections
  • Reports of a traffic collision
  • Event data recorders
  • Property damage estimates
  • Calculations and scientific software

A doctor offers diagnosis and treatment to the plaintiff while a biomechanist computes the forces applied to the plaintiff during the collision. They also determine whether these forces surpass the tolerance of the wounded tissues.

Qualifications of a Biomechanist

The biomechanical experts are formally trained in engineering mechanics, physiology, anatomy, tissue failure, and occupant loading. A lot of them have a Masters or Ph.D. in biomechanics, biomedical engineering with a focus on the failure of biological tissues, or kinesiology, in addition to an undergraduate engineering degree.

They assess how different human body parts react to applied loads, how tissues fail, how strains and stresses advance in tissues during loading, and how inconsistencies in the biological tissue’s mechanical properties impact their response and failure.

This incredibly detailed knowledge of physiology and anatomy allows a biomechanist to understand diagnoses, classification schemes of different injuries, and the influence of reflexes on tissues. The combination of this medical and engineering know-how is essential to evaluate the causal link between an event and an injury.

Biomechanical Analysis of Helmets and Head Injuries

When a lawyer litigates a motorcycle injury case, they may have to address the contingent liability if their client was not wearing a helmet or not wearing the right kind of helmet. If this happens, a biomechanist can help reply to questions regarding the effectiveness of helmet, such as:

  • Was the plaintiff wearing a helmet properly?
  • Did the helmet meet industry certification standards?
  • Is it possible that wearing a helmet (or a better helmet) might have minimized the injuries suffered by the plaintiff?

The biomechanist usually inspects the helmet plaintiff was wearing during the crash to document evidence of damage, and then they extract the diagnosed injuries from the medical records of the plaintiff.

This helps the biomechanist relate both the injuries and the damage to the helmet’s head coverage and ability to diminish the impact. This data, along with the data about helmet effectiveness and injury tolerance, is used to answer the relevant questions.

Watch YouTube Video: Biomechanics of Brain Injury. This video provides a comprehensive look at the biomechanics of a traumatic brain injury.

Importance of Digital Images to Assess the Injuries

Depending on the kind of traumatic brain injury, proof of head contact may be recorded in the medical files in the form of lacerations, abrasions, fractures, or swelling. It should be noted that proof of helmet contact is usually indicated as abrasions, exterior scrapes, and cracking or compression of the foam liner.

Assessing the digital pictures can be a crucial step in the analysis done by a biomechanist because swelling outside the skull is sometimes not recorded in the radiology report even though this information can be highly valuable in proving the location of head impact.

Reconstruction of Helmet Impact

Biomechanists rely on diagnosed injuries, helmet damage, collision reconstruction, deposition testimony, and witness statements to figure out how head contact materialized during the crash. To calculate the head acceleration experienced by a motorcyclist’s or bicyclist’s head during an impact, the biomechanical engineer may try to re-create the damage to the helmet in a lab.

What They Are Capable Of

Any inquiries regarding the causation of injury, specifically related to helmets and head injuries, need a thorough analysis of the diagnosed injuries, collision reconstruction, and the role of helmets in diminishing head impacts in certain circumstances. While helmets can certainly prevent many injuries, they can’t protect against all skull and brain injuries.

A biomechanics specialist can answer relevant questions about liability by examining the helmet, reviewing medical records, calculating damage, and assessing head acceleration during the collision and comparing it to injury and test data. This can help refute or support a causal link between the accident and the resulting head injury.

San Francisco Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, a San Francisco traumatic brain injury lawyer. If someone you know has sustained a head injury due to another person’s fault, call me at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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