Spinal Injury Research for Cross-Country Rallies

sandy-crashThe first phase of the research aimed at the reduction of spinal injuries in the cross-country rallies worldwide was conducted by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE in conjunction with the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body, and the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety (GIMSS).

Up to 20 of the 62 cars contesting in this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, a round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies and FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship, were fitted with accident data recorders (ADRs) to measure the amount of g-force that drivers and co-drivers are exposed to during the event.

The data will be used in tandem with the latest virtual vehicle crash simulator technology to design a new state-of-the-art driver cockpit safety package including seats that give competitors a new level of protection from the threat of spinal injuries.

“To begin with, the research will give us a better understanding of the cause and extent of spinal injuries that competitors can be susceptible to in cross country rallies,” said ATCUAE President and MKI Chairman, Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

“The aim is to lessen the threat of spinal injuries in cross-country rallies by creating a driver cockpit safety package using crash simulations with virtual reproduction of injury mechanisms.”

The latest technology will be used to detail analysis of bone fractures, severed ligaments, and other injuries that can occur during the kind of impact that cars endure in cross country rallies like the Desert Challenge.

“We want to know exactly what amount of g-force can result in a competitor’s spine being broken,” said Dr. Sean Petherbridge, the ATCUAE’s chief medical officer, who works on the study alongside a Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety (GIMSS) specialists.

“The objective is to design cross country rally seats which do not break under normal operation but which compress to absorb the energy in high impact situations in order to protect the spine.”