Head injuries in lateral impact collisions

Individual non-minor injuries (Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) > or = 2) to the head that occurred to belted and unbelted drivers and front seat passengers on the stuck side of impacted vehicles were examined. Injury type, injury combination, collision severity in relation to type of injury as well as contact sources were assessed. Forty-eight percent of injuries were moderate in severity (AIS 2). The most common type of injury was the diffuse brain injury, typically marked by a short period of unconsciousness, which occurred in collisions of lower severity than focal brain and skull fracture injuries. One-hundred and five out of 216 (48.6%) of contact sources for all injury types originated from outside the vehicle and such exterior sources were more likely to result in high severity injuries. Thirty percent of injuries resulted from head contacts with other vehicles. The most frequent vehicle interior contact source was the side window glass. Diffuse injuries tended to occur independently of other injury types and were more likely to originate from an interior rather than exterior contact. Preventative measures for head injury reduction in lateral collisions are discussed. Overall, the data show that proposed and present European and U.S. lateral impact test methods do not address many head injury problems such as those included in this study.