Best practices for conducting physical reconstructions of head impacts in sport
Annals of Biomedical Engineering
School of Engineering
Football Research, Inc. / National Football League
Physical reconstructions are a valuable methodology for quantifying head kinematics in sports impacts. By recreating the motion of human heads observed in video using instrumented test dummies in a laboratory, physical reconstructions allow for in-depth study of real-world head impacts using well-established surrogates such as the Hybrid III crash test dummy. The purpose of this paper is to review all aspects of the physical reconstruction methodology and discuss the advantages and limitations associated with different choices in case selection, study design, test surrogate, test apparatus, text matrix, instrumentation, and data processing. Physical reconstructions require significant resources to perform and are therefore typically limited to small sample sizes and a case series or case–control study design. Their accuracy may also be limited by a lack of dummy biofidelity. The accuracy, repeatability, and sensitivity of the reconstruction process can be characterized and improved by good laboratory practices and iterative testing. Because wearable sensors have their own limitations and are not available or practical for many sports, physical reconstructions will continue to provide a useful and complementary approach to measuring head acceleration in sport for the foreseeable future.