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Digital child developed for car accident injury research

When you first hear the phrase "digital child," you might think of a computer game or perhaps a youngster spending too much time online. In reality, a digital child is part of a breakthrough in car accident injury research.

The digital child models will help make riding in automobiles safer for children, the most precious cargo any of us can carry around La Crosse.

American automaker Ford recently announced development of one of the very first digital kids.

"We study injury trends in the field, and we know that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people from age four to 34," said one of the researchers. "We want to better understand how injuries to younger occupants may be different."

The researcher says current restraint systems are effective in reducing injuries to children, but that the automaker is looking for ways to make today's seatbelt system better.

Though it might sound as if creation of a digital child would require knowledge of Photoshop and a few clicks of the mouse, Ford spent 11 long years working on a digital version of the adult body.

"Building the model of a person is just like building a model of a car," the researcher said. "You start with your surface geometry for each component and any subcomponent it contains -- in this case the geometry of the human body and its internal organs."

These virtual models don't take the place of crash test dummies, but they do help researchers understand the mechanics of human bodies when vehicles collide. Scientists study those mechanics so they can anticipate and prevent or mitigate particularly damaging motions.

If you or your child are faced with injuries caused by a negligent driver in a car accident, contact an experienced attorney who can explain ways in which you might be compensated for damages, including medical bills, lost wages and benefits, as well as pain and suffering.

Source: "Ford Develops World First Digital Child for Virtual Crash Testing," Nov. 15, 2011

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