Skull survey could improve vehicle safety

January 22, 2008

Women's skulls are thicker than men's, but they both shrink slowly after we reach adulthood. That's the conclusion of a new imaging study of 3000 people published in the Inderscience International Journal of Vehicle Safety. The detailed results could help in the design of more effective devices for protecting the head in vehicle collisions and other accidents.

Jesse Ruan of the Ford Motor Company and colleagues at Tianjin University of Science and Technology have devised a non-invasive method for determining and analyzing the critical geometric characteristics of a person's skull. Their approach is based on head scan images of 3000 patients at the Tianjin Fourth central Hospital.

The researchers found that the average thicknesses of the skull in men was 6.5 millimeters, but 7.1 mm in women. The average front to back measurement for men was 176 mm in men, but was less in women at 171 mm. Average width was 145 mm in men and 140 mm in women, the team found.

"Skull thickness differences between genders are confirmed in our study," Ruan says, "The next step will be to find out how these differences translate into head impact response of male and female, and then we can design the countermeasure for head protection."

Skull thickness, as one might expect, improves the outcome for anyone suffering a head injury, but studies have also demonstrated that skull shape can also have an effect. However, the detailed relationship between skull thickness and shape and how well a person tolerates a head injury have not been settled with most studies simply extrapolating from smaller to larger skull and thickness to predict the likely effects of an impact.

The current research, which involved a detailed statistical analysis of the various measurements for all 3000 people scanned. The analysis shows that the distribution of skull size, shape and thickness do not follow a so-called "normal" distribution pattern and so such extrapolations may be invalid.

"Reliable biomechanical geometric data of the human skull can help us to better understand the problem of head injury during an impact," the researchers say, "and help in the design of better head protective devices.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

Explore further: New fossil rattles Moby Dick's family tree

Related Stories

New fossil rattles Moby Dick's family tree

April 29, 2015

Almost since the time of Melville's epic hunt, scientists have been fascinated by the remarkable attributes of the sperm whale and its kin, the smaller pigmy and dwarf whales. Capable of diving to great depths and gifted ...

First 3D pterosaur eggs found with their parents

June 5, 2014

Researchers have discovered the first three-dimensionally preserved pterosaur eggs in China. The eggs were found among dozens, if not hundreds, of pterosaur fossils, representing a new genus and species (Hamipterus tianshanensis). ...

Recommended for you

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Rare braincase provides insight into dinosaur brain

October 8, 2015

Experts have described one of the most complete sauropod dinosaur braincases ever found in Europe. The find could help scientists uncover some of the mysteries of how dinosaur brains operated, including their intellectual ...

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.