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Medical College of Wisconsin crash lab tests child car seat safety

Tests help determine what injuries kids sustain
Posted at 4:52 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 18:58:56-05

Using a high tech crash lab, researchers with the Medical College of Wisconsin are learning how to keep children safer in cars.

They are running a series of tests using a child test dummy to find out what kind of injuries certain accidents will cause.

On Wednesday, researchers were looking at what happens to a child in a car seat when the car is involved in a side impact crash, like when a car is t-boned.

"The main things we look at are the head and the neck because that's the typical injuries we see out in the field," said Hans Hauschild, a senior research engineer with the Medical College of Wisconsin.

He says their lab is equipped with 3D imaging and more than 30 cameras to track every direction the crash dummy moves.

"Some of the information that we're getting today will help future manufacturers building child car seats, building vehicle seats, or adding padding inside the vehicles if need be," he said.

The crash lab includes a platform fixed to a sled that mimics an accident. There is no actual car because researchers say using a car is more expensive and doesn't allow for repeat tests.

The 3-year-old child test dummy is also sitting in a European-style car seat because researchers say it has a different type of attachment device that makes it easier to connect to their lab setup.

The type of 3D imaging they use is similar to what movies and video game developers use. It can show exactly how the child moves within the seat and what injuries they would likely receive.

"That's kind of the idea behind it, can we predict what type of injuries a child may experience in these types of environments," said John Humm, an engineer with the Medical College of Wisconsin's neuroscience lab.

According to Safe Kids, car crashes are the number one cause of unintentional death among children.

But child safety seats can reduce fatal injuries by up to 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers.

These researchers hope to learn how car seats can be made even safer. The data collected during the research will eventually be published in scientific papers and shared with other industry professionals.

The research could also be used in the future to influence government regulations surrounding vehicles and car seats.

In the meantime, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin offers car seat safety checks, so you can find out if your child's car seat is attached correctly. More information can be found here

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