MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Julie Mansfield, Lead author
Injury Biomechanics Research Center
Ohio State College of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Parents and caregivers often understand that a rear-facing car seat will support the head, neck, and spine during frontal impacts. In frontal impacts, the child will simply be cradled and supported by the shell of the car seat as crash forces “pull” the child toward the front of the vehicle. However, caregivers often ask how a rear-facing car seat would work if the vehicle is struck from behind. In that case, crash forces might “pull” the occupant toward the rear of the vehicle. In this case, they wonder whether the head and neck of the rear-facing child would be supported.
Injuries to children in rear impact crashes are fairly rare. However, we wanted to run some crash tests so we could see exactly what was happening in these scenarios. With these data, we can better explain to caregivers how rear-facing car seats work in this type of crash.
We exposed four different models of rear-facing car seats to a moderate severity rear-impact crash pulse. All were installed on a recent model year vehicle seat. We used crash test dummies representing a one-year-old child and a three-year-old child.
We found that the rear-facing car seats protected the crash test dummy well when exposed to a typical rear impact. The car seats supported the child throughout the crash and still did their job to keep the head, neck, and spine aligned. A lot of the crash energy was absorbed through the car seat interacting with the vehicle seat, so that reduced the amount of energy transferred into the occupant. This is important in preventing injuries. Continue reading