Ashley Wayne

Participant: PROMISE AGEP Research Symposium


Ashley Wayne

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Institution: University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)



Infant Skull Fracture Mechanics in Abusive Head Trauma Versus Accidental Falls


Head injuries are the leading cause of death in infants (Powell et al., 2013). In addition, crying is the most common triggering factor for abusive head trauma and the majority of cases are reported when an infant is 6-8 weeks old (Simonnet et al., 2014). Oftentimes, there are disparities in whether the head injury was caused by inflicted abuse or an accidental fall as skull fracture can occur in both cases. More literature on cranial fracture mechanics can help forensic pathologists determine whether a skull fracture is due to abuse or an accidental fall.

A study was conducted to compare the crack length of entrapped infant (2-17 days old) porcine skulls to controlled head drops. However, the majority of abuse cases typically occur when the infant is slightly older and this study did not consider whole body kinematics for force dissipation through the body (Powell et al., 2013). There is also a lack of scientific data on the variability in the causes of the head injury such as distance of fall and the nature of the surface the child falls on. Therefore, it is important to test a range of variables to better understand the mechanical behavior of infant skulls after accidental falls and abuse.

The central goal of this proposed study is to compare infant skull fracture mechanics of infants who experience accidental falls and abusive head impacts. Our hypothesis is that the crack length in the skull will be larger in abuse cases compared to accidents.



Ashley Wayne is a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Maryland – Baltimore County. In May of 2016 she earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. During her time at UVa she conducted research on the design of a device for objective assessment of knee laxity. Ashley also has experience working at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing where she helped develop the instrumentation and testing protocol to measure temperature and wear on milling inserts. While she is not in the lab, she enjoys spending her time in the gym, going to church, playing softball, and researching natural hair.



My research interests are to understand the mechanical behavior of biomaterials. I am currently researching the infant skull fracture characteristics of head injuries after abusive trauma and accidental falls.





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