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Acute forces required for datal compression asphyxia: A biomechanical model and historal comparisons

Kroll, MW and Still, GK and Neuman, TS and Graham, MA and Griffin, LV (2017) Acute forces required for datal compression asphyxia: A biomechanical model and historal comparisons. Medicine, Science and the Law, 57 (2). pp. 61-68. ISSN 0025-8024

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Abstract

Background Fatalities from acute compression have been reported with soft-drink vending machine tipping, motor vehicle accidents, and trench cave-ins. A major mechanism of such deaths is flail chest but the amount of force required is unclear. Between the range of a safe static chest compression force of 1000 N (102 kg with earth gravity) and a lethal dynamic force of 10–20 kN (falling 450 kg vending machines), there are limited quantitative human data on the force required to cause flail chest, which is a major correlate of acute fatal compression asphyxia. Methods We modeled flail chest as bilateral fractures of six adjacent ribs. The static and dynamic forces required to cause such a ribcage failure were estimated using a biomechanical model of the thorax. The results were then compared with published historical records of judicial “pressing,” vending machine fatalities, and automobile safety cadaver testing. Results and conclusion The modeling results suggest that an adult male requires 2550 ± 250 N of chest-applied distributed static force (260 ± 26 kg with earth gravity) or 4050 ± 320 N of dynamic force to cause flail chest from short-term chest compression.

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