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Whiplash Injury Evaluation



NORCROSS, Ga. - Saab's newest crash test dummy family member is called BioRlD. An acronym for Biofidelic Rear Impact Dummy, BioRlD will significantly advance development and testing of systems designed to help protect against whiplash type injuries, such as the world-first Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR). Developed by a Swedish consortium that included Saab Automobile AB, BioRlD is the first test dummy specifically designed to help safety engineers evaluate the risk of neck injuries in rear-end collisions.

Today's standard crash test dummy, the Hybrid 111, cannot effectively measure how seating systems protect occupant necks during rear impacts. Because the Hybrid 111 was not designed to provide neck or spine data in rear impacts, Saab found it to be inadequate during the development of its unique SAHR system. Instead, Saab safety engineers have also used a specially developed neck fitted to a Hybrid 111 dummy. At the same time, Saab participated in the development of the BioRlD.

BioRlD features 24 vertebrae, the same number as in the human spine. It has joints that allow for forward and backward movement of the head, and integrates spring-loaded cables that simulate the action of human neck muscles. As a result, during a rear-end crash, BioRlD can simulate the actual behavior of the human body better than any previous dummy.

The most important benefit of using BioRlD is the ability to measure head movement and the difference in acceleration of head and chest during rear collisions. Kristina Wiklund, safety engineer at Saab Automobile AB and a member of the team who developed the Saab Active Head Restraint system, explains: "In whiplash-related injuries, the pressure changes that occur in the vertebral canal are minute—and it's those changes that are possibly the primary reason for neck injuries. Prior to BioRlD, dummies could not measure these pressure changes—they merely measured larger ranges of movement and acceleration changes."

Currently Saab is using one of only four BioRlD dummies in existence for current and future product development work. Saab is also in discussions with insurance and testing organizations about requirements related to rear end collision injury prevention.

"The only current regulatory rear-end crash test is designed to evaluate the risk of fuel leaks," said Gerald Plante, Saab Cars USA, Inc.'s compliance manager. "Saab is very interested in developing more scientific tests that better evaluate the effectiveness of whiplash prevention systems, such as SAHR. Considering that whiplash injuries constitute one of the most common and costly injuries from rear-end collisions, we feel a more advanced BioRlD can be an important element in Saab's biomechanical development work."

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