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Dissertation Proposal Defense, Mariyam Isa: Experimental Investigations of Blunt Force Trauma in the Human Skeleton
November 28, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Experimental Investigations of Blunt Force Trauma in the Human Skeleton
Mariyam Isabella Isa
In forensic anthropology casework, skeletal trauma analyses can contribute important evidence to the medicolegal death investigation. In bioarchaeology, trauma analysis is situated within a cultural context to explore causes of violence across time and space. In either context, anthropologists identify fracture patterns in the skeleton and make interpretations about the circumstances involved in their production. The methods that allow analysts to interpret skeletal trauma assume predictable relationships between input variables of interest and resultant fracture patterns. This assumption, that fracture behavior is the nonrandom result of interactions between extrinsic factors influencing the stresses placed on bone and intrinsic factors affecting bone’s ability to withstand these stresses, is the basis of the theoretical framework for trauma analysis. However, research documenting and critically evaluating the nature of these relationships is limited within the field of anthropology, particularly in the context of blunt force trauma.
The proposed study seeks to evaluate some of the basic premises that inform current practices in trauma analyses, but which remain unresolved or untested through systematic, prospective research. The proposed research will utilize experimentally generated blunt force fractures in human crania and femora in order to 1) investigate the process of fracture formation, including how fractures initiate and propagate relative to the impact site; 2) document fracture results in impacts wherein impact variables including point of impact, number of impacts, implement, and energy are known; and 3) evaluate fracture features described in reference literature and gather evidence of their utility in reconstructing these impact variables. Once completed, this research will advance understanding of the interplay between impact variables and fracture behavior in cranial and postcranial blunt force skeletal trauma. Furthermore, this study will contribute reference data associating known loading conditions with resultant fracture patterns in human material, which can help inform future anthropological trauma analyses.