Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Chiara Silvestri, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Leonard D. Albano, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Tahar El-Korchi, Department Head

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Malcolm H. Ray, Advisor




Every year, millions of people are killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Although recent improvements to occupant restraint systems, such as seatbelts and airbags, have significantly decreased life threatening injuries, which usually occur to the chest or head, they have done little to decrease the occurrence of lower extremity injuries. Although lower extremity injuries are not usually life threatening, they can result in chronic disability and high psychosocial cost. Of all lower extremity injuries, injuries to the knee-thigh-hip (KTH) region have been shown to be among the most debilitating. This project used a finite element (FE) model of the KTH region to study injury. A parametric investigation was conducted where the FE KTH was simulated as a vehicle occupant positioned to a range of pre-crash driving postures. The results indicate that foot contact force and knee kinematics during impact affects the axial force absorbed by the KTH region and the likelihood of injury. The results of the study could be used to reevaluate the lower extremity injury thresholds currently used to regulate vehicle safety standards. Also, the results could be used to provide guidelines to vehicle manufacturers for developing safer occupant compartments.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Civil & Environmental Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





vehicle-occupant modelling, lower extremity injury, finite element analysis