Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Fracture' prints, not fingerprints, help solve child abuse cases

08.05.2015

Much like a finger leaves its own unique print to help identify a person, researchers are now discovering that skull fractures leave certain signatures that can help investigators better determine what caused the injury.

Implications from the Michigan State University research could help with the determination of truth in child abuse cases, potentially resulting in very different outcomes.


Michigan State University researchers Roger Haut and Todd Fenton have discovered that a single blow to the head not only causes one fracture, but may also cause several, unconnected fractures in the skull. Pictured are areas of the skull being stressed on impact. As the stresses become more severe and approach levels that might cause fracture, they become yellow to orange, and finally red for very intense levels of stress. Importantly, an area of high-intensity cranial stress develops early and away from the site of actual impact. Implications from the research could help with the determination of truth in child abuse cases, potentially resulting in very different outcomes.

Credit: Michigan State University

Until now, multiple skull fractures meant several points of impact to the head and often were thought to suggest child abuse.

Roger Haut, a University Distinguished Professor in biomechanics, and Todd Fenton, a forensic anthropologist, have now proven this theory false. They've found that a single blow to the head not only causes one fracture, but may also cause several, unconnected fractures in the skull. Additionally, they've discovered that not all fractures start at the point of impact - some actually may begin in a remote location and travel back toward the impact site.

The team's findings were recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

"It's a bit like smashing raw hamburger into a patty on the grill," Haut said. "When you press down on the meat to flatten it, all the edges crack. That's what can happen when a head injury occurs."

Because piglet skulls have similar mechanical properties as infant human skulls - meaning they bend and break in similar ways - Haut and Fenton used the already deceased specimens in their research and found they were able to classify the different fracture patterns with a high degree of accuracy.

"Our impact scenarios on the piglet skulls gave us about an 82 percent accuracy rate, while on the older skulls, it improved to about 95 percent," Fenton said.

To help them get to this level of accuracy, both researchers teamed up with Anil Jain, a University Distinguished Professor in computer science and engineering at MSU, to develop a mathematical algorithm to help classify the fractures.

"A major issue in child death cases is you never really know what happened," Haut said. "The prosecutor may have one idea, the medical examiner another, and the defendant a completely different scenario."

Fenton and Haut's close relationship with medical examiners often results in them being called upon in certain, hard-to-determine cases. They've used this new knowledge to help solve these cases, but both are also looking to use Jain's algorithm in an online resource that will provide even more assistance to investigators.

The team is currently developing a database, or Fracture Printing Interface, that will allow forensic anthropologists and investigators to upload human fracture patterns from different abuse cases and help them determine what most likely caused an injury.

"We will never know with 100 percent probability what happened in many of these cases, but this interface will give us a higher chance of figuring that out," Haut said.

###

Their research has been funded through multiple grants from the National Institute of Justice.

Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

Sarina Gleason | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>