Course syllabus

Course-PM - Impact Biomechanics
TME196 (7.5 credits, lp4 VT20)

Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences
Division of Vehicle Safety


Contact details

Course administration (contact through e-mail):
Johan Davidsson: (Course examiner)
Erik Brynskog: (Teaching Assistant and course administration on Canvas)

Teachers and assistants:
Johan Davidsson, examiner, lecturer and assignment 1, Chalmers
Johan Iraeus, lecturer and assignment 2, Chalmers
András Bálint, lecturer, Chalmers
Erik Brynskog, teaching assistant and assignment 2, Chalmers
Irene Isaksson Hellman, lecturer, IF
Nils Lubbe, lecturer, Autoliv Research
Lotta Jakobsson, lecturer, Volvo Cars
Stefan Grau, lecturer, GU

Course evaluations
Students have been randomly selected to be student representatives for this course. They will participate in midterm and final evaluation meetings. Selected candidates are:

MPBME - Emelie Carlberg (
MPAUT - Anup Garje Mohankumar (
MPAUT - Till Gebel (
MPAUT - Shivaprasad Gurram (
MPAUT - Subramanya Nagaraj (              


Course purpose

The overall aim of this course is for the students to attain an understanding of human anatomy and physiology, so that they can assess the implications of different types of mechanical loads on the body, AND to attain a general understanding of restraint system design and development, to mitigate the risk of injury.

During the course the student will learn to develop/use mathematical models of humans, especially on simulation of tissue, and of mechanical dummies. Further, the students are to attain knowledge on how mechanical dummies are designed and how injury tolerance levels and injury criteria are established. In this work, the students will learn the principles of injury reduction trough restraints for different body regions, crash situations, and for occupant diversity. The students will also learn methods to use accident analyses/reconstructions, to suggest vehicle and restraint design improvements and to assess injury criteria.



Planned course schedule can be found at TimeEdit and in the CANVAS calendar. Any updates to the schedule will be posted as "Announcements" on CANVAS and it is your responsibility to keep updated. 


Course literature

All lecture notes will be uploaded on the course homepage.

Book: Trauma Biomechanics ‐ Accident Injury in Traffic and Sports; Kai‐Uwe Schmitt et al. 3:rd edition or later, ISBN 978-3-642-03712-2

The book can be found at:

Below you will find recommended reading:

  1. Introduction ‐ Not table 1.2 or 1.4 and only an overview of the other tables in chapter 1
    1.1 About the contents of this book (understand the remarks about trauma biomechanics)
    1.2 Historical remarks (only to get an overview)
  2. Methods in Trauma Biomechanics
    2.1 Statistics, field studies, databases (understand)
    2.2 Basic concepts of biomechanics (understand and learn so that you can present an overview)
    2.3 Injury criteria, injury scales and injury risk (important)
    2.4 Accident reconstruction (important)
    2.5 Experimental models (understand the differences and how these models may be used)
    2.6 Standardized test procedures (understand the principles)
    2.7 Numerical methods (the principles needs to be understood and studied)
    2.8 Summary (important)
  3. Head Injuries
    3.1 Anatomy of the head ‐ study
    3.2 Injuries and injury mechanisms ‐ Not Table 3.1
    3.3 Mechanical response of the head ‐ Not table 3.4
    3.4 Injury criteria for head injuries ‐ Not 3.4.2 – 3.4.4
    3.5 Head injuries in sports ‐ obtain an overview
    3.6 Head injury prevention ‐ rather important
    3.7 Summary ‐ rather important
  4. Spinal Injuries
    4.1 Anatomy of the spine ‐ study
    4.2 Injury mechanisms ‐ Not table 4.1 or 4.2
    4.3 Biomechanical response and tolerances – Overview only, not Table 4.3
    4.4 Injury criteria ‐ rather important
    4.5 Spinal injuries in sports ‐ obtain an overview
    4.6 Prevention of soft tissue neck injury ‐ rather important
    4.7 Summary
  5. Thoracic Injuries
    5.1 Anatomy of the thorax ‐ study
    5.2 Injury mechanisms – Not table 5.1
    5.3 Biomechanical response – Not table 5.2 or 5.3
    5.4 Injury tolerances and criteria ‐ obtain an overview
    5.5 Thoracic injuries in sports ‐ obtain an overview
    5.6 Summary ‐ obtain an overview
  6. Abdominal Injuries
    6.1 Anatomy of the abdomen ‐ study
    6.2 Injury mechanisms ‐ Not table 6.1
    6.3 Testing the biomechanical response ‐ Not covered
    6.4 Injury tolerance ‐ Not covered
    6.5 Influence of seat belt use ‐ obtain an overview
    6.6 Abdominal injuries in sports ‐ Not covered
    6.7 Summary ‐ obtain an overview
  7. Injuries of the Pelvis and the Lower Extremities
    7.1 Anatomy of the lower limbs ‐ study
    7.2 Injury mechanisms – Not table 7.1
    7.3 Impact tolerance of the pelvis and the lower extremities – Not table 7.2 or Fig 7.13 or 7.15
    7.4 Injury criteria – Mainly 7.4.3
    7.5 Pelvic and lower extremity injuries in sports ‐ obtain an overview
    7.6 Prevention of lower extremity injuries ‐ obtain an overview
    7.7 Summary ‐ obtain an overview
  8. Not covered
  9. Not covered


Course design

CANVAS will be used for communication, answering questions and administrating assignments. All information needed should be available on the CANVAS page. If you have questions, or find something missing/unclear, please contact anyone listed under "Course administration". Questions relating to information clearly stated on the CANVAS page will at most be answered with a reference. 

The course consists of lectures, seminars and laboratory exercises. The lectures will cover:

  • Fundamental anatomy and physiology and response to loads.
  • Biomechanical tolerance levels, injury mechanisms and protection criteria.
  • Biological models (cadavers, animals, human volunteers) and experimental studies.
  • Mechanical models, crash test dummies, instrumentation, measuring methods for transient events and crash test methods.
  • Mathematical models (FEM, rigid body, and hybrid models) used for analysing vehicle-occupant interactions (pre-crash and in-crash) as well as accident analyses and reconstructions.
  • Methods for acquiring accident data, coding and classifying injuries, assessing risk of permanent disability, conducting epidemiological analyses.
  • Protection system techniques, protection systems for different road-user categories, protection for different body parts for various crash configurations.

Each lecture has a corresponding page on CANVAS with intended learning outcomes, questions that will be addressed during the lecture and recommended reading. Reading the literature in advance and trying to answer the lecture questions is highly recommended.

The exam will test your general understanding of the course in terms of anatomy and physiology, common injury criteria, crash test dummies and methods to study biomechanics. 

Assignment 1 will test your ability to apply what is taught in the lectures. You will work in groups of 2 students with an assigned supervisor who will give feedback on your work. Missed deadlines will result in AT MOST grade 3 for the assignment. Steps that you are to complete include:

  • Identify an injury to address, from traffic, sports, workplace etc.
  • Study its epidemiology, so that you can describe how common the injury is and what the effects are
  • Describe the injury mechanics at hand
  • Come up with a protective system given the injury mechanism
  • Describe how your protective system could be tested to ensure the intended outcome
  • Present your case to your pears

Assignment 2 will consist of a computer lab where you will analyse the simulation results of a state-of-the-art Finite Element Human Body Model subjected to a vehicle crash. You will study some of the injury criteria taught in the lectures to assess the performance of the safety system and give recommendations for the shoulder belt and airbag design. Your findings should be presented in a report. 


Learning objectives

After completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • describe the basic structure and mechanical properties of various body parts
  • describe how different body regions respond to static and transient loads; biomechanical and physiological response (fundamental principles of injury biomechanics)
  • discuss the concept of injury criteria, injury risk functions and injury thresholds
  • suggest appropriate model, e.g. subtypes of mechanical, biological or mathematical models, in various different types of studies in the field of passive safety
  • describe how restraints can reduce injury risk
  • describe how a vehicle accident analysis and reconstruction is carried out and how such data can be used to specify product requirements
  • describe how near-crash activated reversible safety systems will reduce injury risk if the crash occurs.

Link to the syllabus on Studieportalen: Study plan


Examination & Grading

The mandatory parts of this course are two assignments and one written examination. The assignments are:

  1. Develop a restraint system and suggest methods to evaluate its performance (full report and oral presentation, Assignment 1 - Link)
  2. Analysing results from a finite element simulation (report, Assignment 2 - Link)

The final grade will be based 50% on assignment 1 and 50% on examination result. Missed deadlines will result in AT MOST grade 3 for assignment 1. In order to get a passing grade, you need to pass the examination and both assignments have to be approved. A positive interpretation will be used so that 3.5 or 4.5 are rounded upwards, all other number to the closest grade of F, 3, 4, or 5. Oral presentation of assignment 1 (6‐8 minutes) and report of assignment 2 is mandatory!

The assignment grades (or pass/fail) will be based on the following:

  • Your ability to clearly show that you have understood the problem
  • Your analysis technique
  • Your ability to communicate your solution and to take a holistic problem solution approach

The exam will focus on topics that are considered important to remember from this course. These are primarily:

  • General anatomy terms and physiology (lecture notes* and section 1 in each of the chapters 3 to 7 in the course book)
  • Knowing the most important injury scales and injury criteria (lecture notes** sections 2 and 4 in each of the chapters 3 to 5 in the course book)
  • Basic knowledge about crash test dummies (lecture notes*** and chapter 2.6.1)
  • Possible methods to study biomechanics, and test methods (lecture notes***, chapter 2 in the course book, and section 2 in chapter 3 to 7 in the course book)

In addition, the exam may include questions on the understanding of the topic Impact Biomechanics. No aids are permitted during the exam.

* The following lectures include anatomy and physiology that should be studied:

  • Anatomy, physiology and injuries
  • Tissue and mechanical properties of tissues
  • Mechanical properties of tissues
  • Children in cars

**The following lectures include injury scales and injury criteria that should be studied:

  • Restraints ‐ Injury Control Strategies
  • Injury risk functions and how risk is measured in test facility, NCAP etc

***The following lectures include presentations of dummies and test methods that should be studied:

  • Crash, component tests and mechanical models


Course summary:

Date Details Due