Abusive head trauma? A biomechanics-based approach

Kent Hymel, Paris A. Bandak, Michael D. Partington, Ken R. Winston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Medical professionals frequently evaluate infants and children with head trauma. If the child's cranial injuries are not explained by the history, child abuse must be considered. A significant body of research regarding cranial injury mechanisms is available. This article presents a synthesis of a subset of the biomechanics literature relevant to head injury. The potential application of this knowledge base is explored through five questions: (a) What physical laws govern the response of the head-brain complex to the application of a mechanical force? (b) What are the causal mechanisms of head injury? (c) What properties of living tissues affect responses to the application of a mechanical force? (d) How can specific cranial injuries be linked to their biomechanical origins? and (e) Can the biomechanical history explain the cranial injuries? The authors propose a biomechanics-based paradigm for analysis of pediatric head trauma and seek a qualitative rather than a quantitative understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-128
Number of pages13
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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