Biomechanics, as related to motor vehicle collisions, is a study that applies to the examination of internal and external mechanical forces acting on a biological system (human) during a crash event(s), and the effects that these forces have on the occupant. This expert is used to tie in the accident reconstruction aspects of the case to the physician’s diagnosis. The majority of the biomechanists lack the training or license to make any formal diagnosis of a medical condition and, therefore, there are many cases where the courts have not allowed biomechanists to give opinions about a diagnosis. In order to make a diagnosis, one would need to be a (MD/DC) physician.
In the “biologic” portion of field of biomechanics in relation to its use in car crash biomechanics, the expert is knowledgeable in several areas. As the biological system for the human is diverse and the anatomical considerations are complex, the biomechanics expert should have specific training or taken courses in:
A) formal courses in human anatomy. A cadaver class is essential to see real tissue.
B) functional anatomy courses, that is, what happens to anatomical structures within the human frame when they move through the various stages of motion in a specific crash. Kinesiology is an excellent college program to learn how to photograph a human that has marked joints and analyze each joint through the various stages of motion during movement. This study would require knowledge of what muscles are active in various motions and the roles of ligaments and muscles/tendons in motion events.
C) training in what human factors make a person more prone or less susceptible to injury events.
D) clinical experience observing occupants (human test subjects) or dummies in various impacts.
E) it would bolster the credibility of the expert to have some real-world experience as an Emergency Medical Technician or paramedic so that actual cases could be analyzed at the scene of the crash to provide more expertise.
In the mechanical portion of biomechanics relative to MVCs, the expert should have adequate knowledge and training in the following areas:
A) significance of calculated delta-V of the occupant’s vehicle from the reconstructionist.
B) collision dynamics from the reconstructionist and other documents so the angle of impacts (direction of impact) and how body would move in the collision relative to these directions could be determined.
C) duration of impact and the importance of time in injury causation; also how impact types, the primary direction of force (PDOF), and vehicle motion during time and after collision affect time elements.
D) photographic analysis of occupants within vehicle or use of exemplar vehicle initial position relative to the interior of the vehicle and the striking vehicle. Not always possible, but should be requested. There is little credibility for any biomechanics expert opinion that has not formally requested to inspect the injured party (plaintiff) in the vehicle or an exemplar vehicle. The lack of a request could imply a typical approach of taking a “one-size-fits-all” type of business. There are circumstances where this photographic evaluation is not possible or practical.
Who are these biomechanics experts who testify about MVC injuries? Biomechanics experts in MVCs have a wide variety of formal degrees and/or training, including mechanical engineering, physics, kinesiology, mathematics, biomedical engineering, biomechanics, and physicians (medical doctors and doctors of chiropractic). Some traffic accident reconstructionists with no formal degrees from any college will attempt to qualify in trails as experts in the field of biomechanics. The field of biomechanics is very broad numerous specializations. Prior to the mid-1980s most universities offered biomechanics degrees in America under kinesiology programs within their physical education departments, where athletes could be analyzed for motion studies, mechanical forces, and anatomic considerations. Kinesiology is a science that encompasses the area of biomechanics and is the study of human movement. Kinematics is the appearance or description of motion. Kinetics is the study of the actions of forces. Dynamics is the study of systems subject to positive or negative acceleration.