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Comput Methods Biomech Biomed Engin. 2016 Oct;19(13):1432-42. doi: 10.1080/10255842.2016.1149574. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

Finite element modeling of human brain response to football helmet impacts.

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a School of Engineering Matter, Transport and Energy , Arizona State University , Tempe , AZ , USA.
b School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering , Arizona State University , Tempe , AZ , USA.
c School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment , Arizona State University , Tempe , AZ , USA.


The football helmet is used to help mitigate the occurrence of impact-related traumatic (TBI) and minor traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) in the game of American football. While the current helmet design methodology may be adequate for reducing linear acceleration of the head and minimizing TBI, it however has had less effect in minimizing mTBI. The objectives of this study are (a) to develop and validate a coupled finite element (FE) model of a football helmet and the human body, and (b) to assess responses of different regions of the brain to two different impact conditions - frontal oblique and crown impact conditions. The FE helmet model was validated using experimental results of drop tests. Subsequently, the integrated helmet-human body FE model was used to assess the responses of different regions of the brain to impact loads. Strain-rate, strain, and stress measures in the corpus callosum, midbrain, and brain stem were assessed. Results show that maximum strain-rates of 27 and 19 s(-1) are observed in the brain-stem and mid-brain, respectively. This could potentially lead to axonal injuries and neuronal cell death during crown impact conditions. The developed experimental-numerical framework can be used in the study of other helmet-related impact conditions.


Football helmet; brain injury; brain tissue; concussion; finite element analysis; mTBI; sports injury

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