This paper presents an analysis of research on the biomechanics of head injury with an emphasis on the tolerance of the skull to lateral impacts. The anatomy of this region of the skull is briefly described from a biomechanical perspective. Human cadaver investigations using unembalmed and embalmed and intact and isolated specimens subjected to static and various types of dynamic loading (e.g., drop, impactor) are described. Fracture tolerances in the form of biomechanical variables such as peak force, peak acceleration, and head injury criteria are used in the presentation. Lateral impact data are compared, where possible, with other regions of the cranial vault (e.g., frontal and occipital bones) to provide a perspective on relative variations between different anatomic regions of the human skull. The importance of using appropriate instrumentation to derive injury metrics is underscored to guide future experiments.
Relevance: A unique advantage of human cadaver tests is the ability to obtain fundamental data for delineating the biomechanics of the structure and establishing tolerance limits. Force–deflection curves and acceleration time histories are used to derive secondary variables such as head injury criteria. These parameters have direct application in safety engineering, for example, in designing vehicular interiors for occupant protection. Differences in regional biomechanical tolerances of the human head have implications in clinical and biomechanical applications.