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Project information

Protecting children in crashes through the investigation of the material and structural properties of developing tissue

F.J. López-Valdés

November 2020 - October 2022

Funding entity Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación


PROCHILD is a proposal submitted to the EUROPA INVESTIGACION 2020 of the PROGRAMA ESTATAL DE I+D+I ORIENTADA A LOS RETOS
SOCIALES. The goal of the proposal is to obtain funding to establish a collaborative network with several Spanish and international institutions to
prepare a successful proposal to the European Research Council Consolidator Grants (ERC CoG) call for projects of the program HORIZON EUROPE.
The ERC CoG proposal will address the global problem of infant injuries due to motor vehicle (MV) crashes. Unintentional injuries, and particularly motor
vehicle injuries, are the leading cause of death, serious injury and acquired disability for children and youth between 1 and 14 years of age. In addition,
for every fatality, around 18 children are hospitalized and over 400 hundred receive medical treatment. The ultimate goal of the ERC CoG proposal is to
eliminate fatal, severe and severely incapacitating injuries caused by road traffic to children and adolescents worldwide. To that end, the specific
objective of the proposal is to investigate on the most appropriate constitutive models of developing human musculoskeletal tissue so that detailed finite
element models of children are biofidelic and can predict tissue failure. Then, the project will also seek how to implement these models into testing
standards and regulations that can be easily adopted by low- and middle- income countries. Indeed, the cost of testing equipment and large testing
facilities is a barrier for these countries to implement effective programs to assess the safety of vehicles and vehicle components. But thinking only in the
so-called passive safety of children would be to look at one piece of the picture, especially with the advent of more automated cars. This international
projection of the results to be obtained within the ERC CoG project is why we consider a need to meet with international experts working on the field of
automated vehicles to identify how these features can also help not only in well-established high-income countries, but also in others that are struggling
to have a safe and sustainable transport system and cannot afford the toll on young human lives that suboptimal vehicles may impose in their
populations. To this end, the current proposal will dedicate funds to establish meetings with those responsible of international testing and regulatory
programs such as EuroNCAP and the United Nations.
As for the scientific contribution of the proposal, the approach of the ERC CoG project to the prevention of pediatric injury is novel because it presents a
comprehensive research methodology to analyze changes of tissue mechanical properties with age by linking age to microstructural tissue changes and
it is the first robust attempt of developing probabilistic tissue injury criteria based on strain predictions of human FE models. In addition, the proposal will
advance existing knowledge on pediatric injuries by approaching them from a multidimensional perspective including not only risk to life but also aspects
of disability and treatment costs.
Thus, PROCHILD also seeks to establish close collaborations with relevant national research groups such as the School of Medicine of the Universidad
San Pablo CEU and the IQS at Universidad Ramon Llull, both well known for their expertise in biomechanical and post-mortem studies and in material
testing and characterization.


ProChild-ERC2021