Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Biomedical Engineering Research at CIRP: The Study of Biomechanics

Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles to biology and medicine. Within biomedical engineering research lies the study of biomechanics, kinematics, and kinetics; together, these disciplines can be leveraged to provide quantitative data on how the human body responds to forces and accelerations experienced in injury-causing events, such as motor vehicle crashes or concussion.  Furthermore, biomedical engineering principles can be used to understand how mechanical loading experienced during injury events leads to structural injuries and deficits in human physiological function.

CIRP has honed expertise in pinpointing and assessing the causes of injuries to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. The goal of our scientists is to translate field data and laboratory testing into improved products for children. The Center’s biomedical engineering research is conducted to fill critical gaps in quantitative data on the response of children and youth to crash or other injury forces. This research enhances our understanding of the mechanisms of pediatric injury and provides a solid experimental foundation for the development of improved injury prevention technology. Specifically, the objectives of this research are to:

  • develop improved injury assessment devices and techniques
  • facilitate the design of technical interventions to prevent or reduce the severity of injury
  • determine mechanisms of injury so that diagnoses and treatment can be enhanced

Exemplar CIRP Projects Involving Biomechanical Engineering Methods:

  • Low Acceleration Time Extended Events
    In a collaboration between CIRP@CHOP, Drexel University, and University of Virginia and funded by TK Holdings (Takata Corp.), this line of research aims to quantify the movement of motor vehicle occupants during pre-crash avoidance maneuvers utilizing a sled that mimics vehicle swerving.
  • Motion and Muscle Activation of Young Volunteers in Evasive Vehicle Maneuvers
    This project builds on the Low Acceleration Time Extended Events project and examines responses of rear seat occupants to emergency maneuvers in a real vehicle rather than in a laboratory setting. In partnership with The Ohio State University Injury Biomechanics Research Center and the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics, the research team has conducted an on-road (test track) assessment using professional drivers where video, electromyography, and motion capture data was captured on rear seat restrained occupants age 6 years and older. The goal is to optimize vehicle restraint and seat design to provide protection in these common real-world scenarios.
  • Quantitative Assessments for Sports-Related Concussion
    This five-year project integrates neuroscience, bioengineering and clinical protocols that will involve instrumenting athletes on the field, using animal models in the laboratory (with Georgia Institute of Technology) and in-depth clinical observation of patients with concussion with a goal to develop a suite of quantitative assessment tools to enhance accuracy and objectivity of sports-related concussion diagnoses.Our research focuses on objective metrics of activity, balance, neurosensory processing including eye tracking, as well as measures of cerebral blood flow.
  • Accuracy of Helmet-based Sensors
    This concussion research was focused on evaluating the accuracy of sensor systems designed to be implemented for helmeted and non-helmeted sports to measure the kinematics of head impact of athletes in real sports settings. Such sensors are key to research efforts to identify thresholds for injury-causing impacts across the pediatric age range and across a range of real world impact conditions.
  • Kinematic Response of Pediatric and Adult Human Volunteers to Automotive-Like Loading Conditions
    Researchers at CHOP collaborated with TK Holdings Inc. (Takata Corp.), Rowan University, and University of Virginia to develop the first low-speed human volunteer sled to test pediatric subjects. A series of impact directions were studied in order to define typical age-based kinematics of humans in automotive-like loading conditions. In addition, several restraint based countermeasures were evaluated.