Thoracic injuries are a major cause of mortality in frontal collisions, especially for elderly female and obese people. Car occupant individual characteristics like age, gender and Body Mass Index (BMI) are known to influence human vulnerability tolerance in crashes. The objective of the this study was to perform in vivo test experiments to quantify the influence of subject characteristics in terms of age, gender and anthropometry and on thorax mechanical response variability under belt loading. Thirty-nine relaxed volunteers of different anthropometries, genders and age were submitted to non-injurious sled tests (4 g, 8 km/h) with a sled buck representing the environment of a front passenger restrained by a 3-point belt. A resulting shoulder belt force FRes was computed using the external and internal shoulder belt loads and considering shoulder belt geometry. The mid sternal deflection D was calculated as the distance variation between markers placed at mid-sternum and at the 7th vertebra spinous process of the subject. Linear stiffness (K) and damping coefficient (μ) of a spring-dashpot model were identified from the FRes-D curves of each test. The analysis suggests that among subjects over 40 years old, thinness leads to higher K-values.
Keywords: Biomechanics, sled test, elderly, BMI, stereovision, thoracic stiffness, clustering, volunteer