This investigation centers on the case of an adult male whose finger was allegedly amputated by the steering wheel of his car during a crash. The subject claimed to have been driving with his left index finger inserted through a hole in the spoke of his steering wheel and was subsequently involved in an offset frontal collision with a tree. The finger was found to be cleanly severed at the mid-shaft of the proximal phalanx after the crash. This injury was alleged to have been caused by inertial loading from the rotation of the steering wheel during the crash. To determine whether this injury mechanism was plausible, three laboratory tests representing distinct loading scenarios were carried out with postmortem human surrogates loaded dynamically by the subject's steering wheel. It was found that the inertial loads generated in this loading scenario are insufficient to amputate the finger. Additionally, artificially constraining the finger to force an amputation to occur revealed that a separation at the proximal interphalangeal joint occurs rather than a bony fracture of the proximal phalanx. Based on these biomechanical tests, it can be concluded that the subject's injury did not occur during the automobile crash in question. Furthermore, it can be shown that the injury was self-inflicted to fraudulently claim on an insurance policy.
Keywords: Finger injury; Finger tolerance; Amputation; Hand injury; Proximal interphalangeal joint