How Seat-Belted, Rear-Seated Children Sustain Brain Injury In Car Accidents

car on the road

Although the majority of children who sustain a brain injury in a car accident are injured because they were not wearing a seatbelt, there are many cases in which brain injury occurs despite proper restraints. A recent study using several crash and injury databases found common ways for a restrained child to sustain a brain injury during a crash.

Injury from head contact with seatback was caused by a rollout of the torso from the seatbelt. The seatbelt could move off the child's shoulder during an unusual car maneuver, such as steering hard to avoid a collision. Injury from side interior contact was also caused by unusual car maneuvers, but also from potential intrusion to the car from another object.

Injury that occurred without contact to the head or face was found when proper seatbelt position was maintained during the crash. This type of injury was associated with high crash severity and injury to neck, torso, and abdomen. A severe crash that causes extreme acceleration/deceleration forces could result in brain injury without contact to the head or face.

The researchers of the study hope their findings help lead to the production of safer, more effective car restraints.

Bohman K, Arbogast KB, & Bostrom. Head injury causation scenarios for belted, rear-seated children in frontal impacts. Traffic Injury Prevention. (February 2011).