Strange Uses for Cadavers

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Crash Dummies? More Like Crash Bodies.

As Mary Roach pointed out in Stiff, cadavers are very good at handling pain. They can suffer broken collar bones or scapulas -- or worse -- but they won't die or even feel a thing!

That's why, for the past 60 years, scientists have regularly used cadavers in vehicle crash testing. Oh they use dummies, too (that's what you see on the news clips), but dummies can only tell you so much. A human replica can tell you the force that a side or front collision imparts, but it can't give you the precise effects that such an impact would have on the body! A well-kept cadaver will receive all of the bumps, bruises, broken bones, and lacerations a live person might expect.

Estimates published in a 1995 publication of the Journal of Trauma revealed that cadaver crash-testing saved approximately 8,500 lives per year since 1987.

Source: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach, 2004

(Image: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

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