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Authors hope technology will reduce child beating

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Physiological Measurements could offer up a powerful tool for child abuse investigators.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame created an advanced camera system that uses spectroscopic measurements of absorbed and reflected light, and different wavelengths to determine the age of a bruise.  Using Monte Carlo simulations on the results and supporting data -- including "thickness of layer, absorption and scattering properties, refractive index, and scattering anisotropy factors" -- researchers were able to provide what they estimate to be the first digitally measured estimate of bruise composition and age.

At a medical level, the technology relies on the premise that bilirubin, blood volume fraction, and blood oxygenation -- different biochemical and physiological measurements -- peak at different times during the bruising process.  The authors say bruise age is often a key piece of evidence in child abuse cases, but is difficult to measure.



While the technology was designed with child abuse in mind, it could prove valuable to criminal forensic investigations and investigations of domestic and elder abuse.

Professors test bruising
Dean Crawford and Professor Alber test the bruising technology.

The work was funded by the Gerber Foundation.  The lead author was Oleg Kim, a mechanical engineering post-doctoral researcher, while Notre Dame physics Professor Gregory Crawford (and Dean of Science) and Medical School Professor Mark Alber were the senior faculty authors of the work.

Sources: Physiological Measurement, University of Notre Dame [Press Release]





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