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J Biomech Eng. 2008 Feb;130(1):011011. doi: 10.1115/1.2838032.

The effect of strain rate on the mechanical properties of human cortical bone.

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Biomechanics Section, Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK.


Bone mechanical properties are typically evaluated at relatively low strain rates. However, the strain rate related to traumatic failure is likely to be orders of magnitude higher and this higher strain rate is likely to affect the mechanical properties. Previous work reporting on the effect of strain rate on the mechanical properties of bone predominantly used nonhuman bone. In the work reported here, the effect of strain rate on the tensile and compressive properties of human bone was investigated. Human femoral cortical bone was tested longitudinally at strain rates ranging between 0.14-29.1 s(-1) in compression and 0.08-17 s(-1) in tension. Young's modulus generally increased, across this strain rate range, for both tension and compression. Strength and strain (at maximum load) increased slightly in compression and decreased (for strain rates beyond 1 s(-1)) in tension. Stress and strain at yield decreased (for strain rates beyond 1 s(-1)) for both tension and compression. In general, there seemed to be a relatively simple linear relationship between yield properties and strain rate, but the relationships between postyield properties and strain rate were more complicated and indicated that strain rate has a stronger effect on postyield deformation than on initiation of yielding. The behavior seen in compression is broadly in agreement with past literature, while the behavior observed in tension may be explained by a ductile to brittle transition of bone at moderate to high strain rates.

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