Toward Adaptive Designs for Human Safety: Developing Parametric Human Body Models to Present a Diverse Population
The success of many engineered systems is dependent on the extent to which they accommodate the needs of users. When safety is a critical consideration, computational human models are used to ensure optimal safety designs. The variability in injury is often caused by the variation of the human bodies among the population. For example, injury data analyses have shown that, among the adult population, small female, elderly, and obese occupants are at increased risk of death and serious injury in motor-vehicle crashes, as compared with mid-sized, young, and male occupants. Unfortunately, the traditional process for developing computational human models for injury assessment primarily focused on three sizes and shapes of human bodies (i.e., small female, midsize male, and large male), and the limited sizes do not account for the morphological variations in skeleton, internal organs, and external body shape outside of the three anthropometric categories.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have been improving accident impact simulations by broadening the types of body sizes and shapes considered. Our parametric human modeling allows the size and shape of a baseline human model to be rapidly varied based on age, sex, stature, weight, or other anthropometric variables. This method provides the foundation for impact simulations of humans with a wide range of body sizes and shapes.
The overall research goal is to develop the next generation of parametric human body models representing the whole population. Such models will enable population-based or individualized simulations, which will serve for adaptive/personalized designs for human safety, such as adaptive vehicle seatbelt and airbag, personalized helmets and other safety devices and sport equipment.
Students ranging from 1st year to graduate level are welcome to apply, and all will be encouraged to stay on the team for more than the two-semester minimum. Leadership roles are available in the lab, and experienced students will be a natural fit for these positions as their knowledge and skills develop over time. The team currently has the following ongoing projects:
Parametric head model to predict traumatic brain injury and concussion
- This project is to develop parametric scalp, skull and brain models to investigate whether gender, head size, and head shape affect the risk of traumatic brain injury.
Parametric model for children to predict injuries in pediatric falls and child abuse cases
- This project is to develop pediatric head models to represent head morphology over a wide age range. The head model will be extended to whole-body models, which will serve as an objective tool to differentiate between injuries from pediatric falls and child abuse.
Body composition prediction for subject-specific models
- Current injury assessment tools (i.e. crash test dummies and human models) only represent a few sizes of healthy human subjects but do not consider morphological and biomechanical variations among the population. This project seeks to predict body composition by region (fat, muscle, bone, other) as a function of subject covariates and external body shape.
Parametric whole-body model for occupant protection in motor vehicle crashes
- This project is to develop full body human models with a wide range of sizes and shapes. These models will be used for vehicle safety designs to better protect various vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or obese.
NOTE: Students who join this research team will become de facto members of UMTRI Biosciences group and will complete the following developmental items as part of the team requirements. PEERRS training must be completed early in joining the team.
Meeting time and location: Weekly 4:00-6:00pm on Mondays at the 1st floor McComick Conference Room at UMTRI. A best time will be finalized once students are identified. Each subteam arranges a convenient time to meet and work together.
Team organization: Each subteam has a team leader that reports to and meets with the faculty PI. The teams are flexibly structured to enhance creativity and opportunity for student growth.