Skip to main content

Angular head motion with and without head contact: implications for brain injury

Abstract

Angular acceleration of the head has long been recognized as a biomechanical mechanism for traumatic brain injury. In sporting events as well as during bicycle and motorcycle accidents, this angular acceleration may occur with or without direct contact against a rigid surface. The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of combined indirect and direct loading on headform kinematic response and resulting brain injury predictors produced by finite element modeling. This was accomplished by conducting a series of guided free-fall tests that were designed to subject the headform to specific loading conditions—indirect loading (IL), direct loading (DL), and combined indirect/direct loading (IDL). Three different helmet types were selected for testing (bicycle, hockey and football). For the helmet types tested, the IDL condition resulted in significantly higher values of angular acceleration (6600–11,100 rad/s2), maximum principal strain (17.8–31.2), Von Mises stress (9.5–9.8 kPa), and cumulative strain damage measure at 15 % strain (2.7–7.7 %) than IL or DL alone. This trend was consistent across all helmet types and demonstrates the deleterious effects of combined loading on the brain tissue. These results also provide some insight into how seemingly similar impacts can produce substantial differences in brain injury outcome.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

References

  1. 1.

    Broglio SP, Surma T, Ashton-Miller JA (2012) High school and collegiate football athlete concussions: a biomechanical review. Ann Biomed Eng 40(1):37–46

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Nakaguchi H, Fujimaki T, Ueki K et al (1999) Snowboard head injury: prospective study in Chino, Nagano, for two seasons from 1995 to 1997. J Trauma 46(6):1066–1069

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Wald MM (2006) The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview. J Head Trauma Rehabil 21(5):375–378

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Lincoln AE, Caswell SV, Almquist JL, Dunn RE, Norris JB, Hinton RY (2011) Trends in concussion incidence in high school sports: a prospective 11-year study. Am J Sports Med 39(5):958–963

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Omalu BI, DeKosky ST, Minster RL et al (2005) Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a national football league player. Neurosurgery 57:128–134

  6. 6.

    Omalu BI, DeKosky ST, Hamilton RL et al (2006) Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a national football league player: part II. Neurosurgery 59:1086–1092

  7. 7.

    Casson IR, Viano DC, Powell JW, Pellman EJ (2010) Twelve years of national football league concussion data. Sports Health 2(6):471–483

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Gavett BE, Stern RA, McKee AC (2011) Chronic traumatic encephalopathy; a potential late effect of sport-related concussive and subconcussive head trauma. Clin Sports Med 30:179–188

  9. 9.

    Cantu RC (2000) Biomechanics of head injury. In: Neurologic athletic head and spine injuries. WB Saunders Company, USA

  10. 10.

    Gennarelli TA, Thibault LE (1985) Biomechanics of head injury. Neurosurgery 2:1531–1536

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Meaney DF, Smith DH (2011) Biomechanics of concussion. Clin Sports Med 30(1):19–31

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Hardy WN, Foster C, Mason M et al. (2001) Investigation of head injury mechanisms using neutral density technology and high-speed biplanar x-ray. In: Proceedings of the 45th Stapp Car Crash Journal, pp 337–368

  13. 13.

    King A, Yang, K, Zhang L (2003) Is head injury caused by linear or angular acceleration? In: Proceedings of the IRCOBI Conference, pp 1–12

  14. 14.

    Gurdjian ES, Lissner HR, Evans FG et al (1961) Intracranial pressure and acceleration accompanying head impacts in human cadavers. Surg Gynecol Obstetrics 113:185–190

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Post A, Oeur A, Hoshizaki B et al (2012) The influence of centric and non-centric impacts to American football helmets on the correlation between commonly used metrics in brain injury research. In: Proceedings of the IRCOBI Conference, pp 419–429

  16. 16.

    Walsh ES, Rousseau P, Hoshizaki TB (2011) The influence of impact location and angle on the dynamic impact response of a Hybrid III headform. J Sport Eng 13(3):135–143

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Viano DC, Pellman EJ, Withnall C et al (2006) Concussion in professional football: performance of newer helmets in reconstructed game impacts—part 13. Neurosurgery 59:591–606

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Post A, Oeur A, Hoshizaki B et al (2013) An examination of American football helmets using brain deformation metrics associated with concussion. Mat Design 45:653–662

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Post A, Oeur A, Hoshizaki B et al (2013) Examination of the relationship between peak linear and angular accelerations to brain deformation metrics in hockey helmet impacts. Comput Methods Biomech Biomed Eng 16(5):511–519

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Zhang L, Dwarampudi R, Yang KH et al (2003) Effectiveness of the football helmet assessed by finite element modeling and impact testing. In: Proceedings of the IRCOBI Conference, pp 27–38

  21. 21.

    Hurt HH, Thom DR (1992) Motorcyclist head injury mechanisms—with and without helmets. In: Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Association for the advancement of automotive medicine, pp 235–250

  22. 22.

    Smith TA, Tees D, Thom DR et al (1994) Evaluation and replication of impact damage to bicycle helmets. Acc Anal Prev 26(6):795–802

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Pellman EJ, Viano DC, Tucker et al (2003) Concussion in professional football: reconstruction of game impacts and injuries. Neurosurgery 53:799–814

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Viano DC, Withnall C, Halstead DP (2012) Impact performance of modern football helmets. Ann Biomed Eng 40(1):160–174

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Rowson S, Duma SM (2011) Development of the STAR evaluation system for football helmets: integrating player head impact exposure and risk of concussion. Ann Biomed Eng 39(8):2130–2140

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings—May (2013) http://www.sbes.vt.edu/helmet.php. Accessed 27 Mar 2014

  27. 27.

    Mueller F, Cantu R (1977) Annual survey of catastrophic football injuries 1977–2012. University of North Carolina, USA

  28. 28.

    Thompson RS, Rivara FP, Thompson DC (1989) A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. N Engl J Med 320(21):1361–1367

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Yoganandan N, Li J, Zhang J et al (2008) Influence of angular acceleration-deceleration pulse shapes on regional brain strains. J Biomech 41:2253–2262

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Fleisig GS, Barrentine SW, Escamilla RF et al (1996) Biomechanics of overhand throwing with implications for injuries. Sports Medicine 21:421–437

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Richards D, Carhart M, Scher I et al (2008) Head kinematics during experimental snowboard falls: implications for snow helmet standards. J ASTM Int 5(6):JAI101406

  32. 32.

    Kleiven S (2007) Predictors for traumatic brain injuries evaluated through accident reconstruction. In: Proceedings of the 51st Stapp Car Crash Conference, pp 81–114

  33. 33.

    Ommaya AK, Yarnell AP, Hirsch A et al (1967) Scaling of experimental data on cerebral concussions in sub-human primates to concussion threshold in man. In: Proceedings of the 11th Stapp Car Crash Conference

  34. 34.

    Ommaya AK, Hirsch A (1971) Tolerances for cerebral concussion from head impact and whiplash in primates. J Biomech 4(1):13–21

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Margulies SS, Thibault LE (1989) An analytical model of traumatic diffuse brain injury. J Biomech Eng 111:241–249

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Margulies SS, Thibault LE, Gennarelli TA (1990) Physical model simulations of brain injury in the primate. J Biomech 23:823–836

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Margulies S, Thibault LE (1992) A proposed tolerance criterion for diffuse axonal injury in man. J Biomech 25(8):917–923

  38. 38.

    Gennarelli TA, Thibault LE, Adams JH et al (1982) Diffuse axonal injury and traumatic coma in the primate. Annals of Neurology 12:564–574

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Gurdjian ES, Roberts VL, Thomas LM (1966) Tolerance curves of acceleration and intracranial pressure and protective index in experimental head injury. J Trauma 6:600–604

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    NOCSAE (2013) Standard test method and equipment used in evaluating the performance characteristics of protective headgear/equipment. National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment: NOCSAE DOC (ND)001-11m13

  41. 41.

    Mertz HJ (1985) Biofidelity of the hybrid III head. In: Backaitis SH, Mertz HJ (eds) Hybrid III: the first human-like crash test dummy. PT-44 Society of Automotive Engineers, Warrendale, pp 111–120

  42. 42.

    Culver C, Neathery R, Mertz HJ (1985) Mechanical necks with humanlike responses. In: Backaitis SH, Mertz HJ (eds) Hybrid III: the first human-like crash test dummy. PT-44 Society of Automotive Engineers, Warrendale, pp 147–161

  43. 43.

    Horgan TJ, Gilchrist MD (2003) The creation of three-dimensional finite element models for simulating head impact biomechanics. I J Crash 8(4):353–366

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Horgan TJ, Gilchrist MD (2004) Influence of FE model variability in predicting brain motion and intracranial pressure changes in head impact simulations. I J Crash 9(4):401–418

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Nahum AM, Smith R, Ward CC (1977) Intracranial pressure dynamics during head impact. In: Proceedings of the 21st Stapp Car Crash Conference, pp 339–366

  46. 46.

    Hardy WN, Foster CD, Mason MJ et al (2001) Investigation of head injury mechanisms using neutral density technology and high-speed biplanar x-ray. In: Proceedings of the 45th Stapp Car Crash Journal, vol 45. pp 337–68

  47. 47.

    Zhang L, Yang KL, King AI (2004) A proposed injury threshold for mild traumatic brain injury. J Biomech Eng 126(1):226–236

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Bandak FA, Eppinger RH (1995) A three-dimensional finite element analysis of the human brain under combined rotational and translational acceleration. Stapp Car Crash J 38:145–163

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Takhounts EG, Eppinger RH, Campbell JQ et al (2003) On the development of the SIMon Finite Element Head Model. Stapp Car Crash J 47:107–133

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) and by Dynamic Research, Inc. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Rob Roy for initial concept testing.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Terry A. Smith.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Smith, T.A., Halstead, P.D., McCalley, E. et al. Angular head motion with and without head contact: implications for brain injury. Sports Eng 18, 165–175 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12283-015-0175-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Angular Acceleration
  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Maximum Principal Strain
  • Bicycle Helmet
  • Football Helmet