Thoracolumbar Spine Injuries in Car Crashes
Paper in proceeding, 2016

While thoracolumbar (TL) spine injuries have increased in relative importance, they have been subject to limited test methods and injury criteria developments. Using real‐world crashes from Volvo Cars Traffic Accident Database, a two‐part study was carried out: a statistical analysis to establish the correlation between influencing factors to the accident occurrence; and an in‐depth data study to identify and categorise AIS2+ TL spine fractures. Most of the thoracolumbar fractures occur in the area of transition between the thoracic and lumbar spine. Compression is the most common AIS2+ TL spine fracture type, followed by anterior wedge. The occurrence of these is mainly in crashes with a main force component towards the front or the undercarriage. In side impacts, transversal processes fractures are the most frequent injuries. There is an over‐representation of these injuries in complex events, such as multiple impacts and multiple events, including run‐off‐road, rollover and turnover. In the cases of pure frontal impacts, the crash severity is typically high, with a large front structure engagement exerting the occupant for high accelerations. The character of the TL spine fractures, together with the situations of occurrence; provide important insights into likely occupant loading mechanisms, enabling important steps towards methods and criteria addressing these injuries.

spine fractures

thoracolumbar spine

real world data analysis

crash statistics

Car crashes


Lotta Jakobsson

Chalmers, Applied Mechanics, Vehicle Safety

Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre at Chalmers

M. Björklund

Volvo Cars

Anders Westerlund

Volvo Cars

2016 IRCOBI Conference Proceedings - International Research Council on the Biomechanics of Injury


Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Vehicle Engineering

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