Researchers at the Universoty of Oslo hope to further our understanding of “shaken baby syndrome” by studying the G-forces inflicted on developing brains during a variety of traumatic events.
To investigate injuries caused by shaking and blunt force trauma, ten people will play “aggressive parents” and shake the technology-packed doll. Researchers will be able to measure what happens when a baby is violently shaken, compare those injuries with falls from various heights thereby developing a concrete model for brain injuries. The €19 000 doll, originally designed as a car crash test dummy, will be used to learn more about the connection between shaking and damage in an infant’s brain. Although it is already filled with advanced instrumentation, researchers at SINTEF will put in extra equipment so that forensic researchers can measure the stress on the brain from shaking or from the head striking a hard surface or object.
Shaking causes a baby’s head to accelerate quickly so the doll’s head accelerates in three directions. Under acceleration, the stress on an infant’s head can be compared to the worst stress experienced by the pilot of a fighter jet. While shaking can equal ten times the force of gravity (10 G), a fighter pilot can only stand a force of 9 G for a short time before passing out. And in a car accident at 70km (around 43 miles) per hour, the brain is subjected to the force of only a few G.
Post-doctoral research fellow Arne Stray-Pedersen from the University of Oslo has engaged the use of the doll in an effort to improve forensic evidence in legal cases of shaken babies. In an area fraught with difficulties, far from all cases are reported and just a handful end up being handled by the justice system. People who are guilty of this type of abuse may go free due to a lack of evidence; others are wrongly suspected of a crime that they did not commit. “It is a problematic and difficult task. We unfortunately don’t have good enough measurements to differentiate between injuries due to abuse, accidents, and congenital defects. There are no witnesses when an abuser injures an innocent child, and we have neither video nor other evidence that can be used in court,” explains Arne Stray-Pedersen.
Read the full story at Gizmag…