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The Pediatric Forum
March 2002

Some Pitfalls of Computer Modeling

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(3):296. doi:

The article recently published in the ARCHIVES titled "Computer Simulation of Stair Falls to Investigate Scenarios in Child Abuse"1 is a troubling example of irresponsible "computer simulation" without scientific foundation and experimental basis. The intention of the study was to demonstrate that computational tools may be used to aid clinicians, scientists, and engineers in determining injury mechanism—a noble and important goal in objectively evaluating injury potential and formulating prevention, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation strategies. However, the authors demonstrate a naive approach to computer modeling and draw tenuous conclusions about femur fracture potential during stair fall events. The authors also take the additional, unsubstantiated step of postulating that their computer model will eventually differentiate between "accidental" and "nonaccidental" trauma, the latter implying intent typically on the part of a parent or caregiver. The published results of the authors' study demonstrate that the model achieves none of these results with any scientific basis or biomechanical rigor.

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