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I've read it in a book and have heard people mention it, but I can't find any documentation about it. But the point being made is this:

The human collarbone acts as a shock absorber for impact on the shoulder or stretched arm. If too much force is put on the shoulder (EG: during a fall), the collarbone is designed to break to prevent injury to the neck and/or head.

Is this actually true and if so, can anybody point me to some documentation about it?

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This looks like a misinterpretation. Because collarbone is the only horizontal long bone of the human body [1], it is the first to fracture when falling on the shoulder.

Its fracture can affect many structures:

The muscles involved in clavicle fractures include the deltoid, trapezius, subclavius, sternocleidomastoid, sternohyoid and pectoralis major muscles. The ligaments involved include the Conoid ligament and Trapezoid ligament [1].

It is indeed a shock absorber, but for the upper torso (some way or another any bone can be considered a shock absorber):

The clavicle also serves as something of a "shock-absorber" for the upper torso. Physical contact from the side will be partially absorbed by the clavicle. Because of this function, the clavicle is a very commonly broken bone [2].

The fracture can lead to severe injuries:

Displaced or comminuted clavicle fractures are associated with complications such as subclavian vessels injury, hemopneumothorax, brachial plexus paresis [...] [3]


References:

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Clavicle fracture," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Clavicle_fracture&oldid=615723256 (accessed July 30, 2014).
  2. Erich Rosenberger M.D. Anatomy And Physiology (2009). Available from http://www.sciences360.com/index.php/anatomy-physiology-299-12859/ (accessed 30.07.2014)
  3. George Mouzopoulos, Emmanuil Morakis, Michalis Stamatakos, Mathaios Tzurbakis. Complications Associated With Clavicular Fracture. Orthopaedic Nursing, October 2009, Volume 28, Number 5, Pages 217 - 224 - See more at: http://www.nursingcenter.com/lnc/cearticle?tid=938803#sthash.F09wonvJ.dpuf
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  • $\begingroup$ It's hard to accept a "nevagtive answer" as the accepted one. I had found all the links you have and read them. So maybe it is a "Misinterpretation", but it sure seems like a plausible one. Even doctors/physicians seems to mention it. And googling for Crumple zone collarbone gives a ton of people mentioning it. So I'll upvote for the effort, but i'm not ready to accept it yet. $\endgroup$ – Hugo Delsing Aug 1 '14 at 7:11
  • $\begingroup$ Forgot to come back and accept. Sorry for the long wait. $\endgroup$ – Hugo Delsing Apr 17 '15 at 7:17

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