Bi-layered viscoelastic model for a step change in velocity and a constant acceleration stimulus for the human otolith organs

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Virginia Tech


The otolith organs are commonly modeled as a system consisting of three distinct elements, a viscous endolymph fluid in contact with a rigid otoconial layer that is attached to the skull by a viscoelastic gel layer. However, in this model the gel layer is considered as a bi-layered viscoelastic solid and is modeled as a simple Kelvin-Voigt material. The governing differential equations of motion are derived and nondimensionalized yielding - three non-dimensional parameters: nondimensional viscosity, nondimensional elasticity and nondimensional density. These non-dimensional parameters are derived from experimental research. The shear stresses acting at the interface of the viscoelastic bi-layered gel are nondimensionalized and equated. The governing differential equations are then solved using finite difference techniques on a digital computer for a step-change in velocity and a constant acceleration stimulus.

The results indicate that the inclusion of a viscoleastic bi-layered gel is essential for the model to produce greater otoconial layer deflections that are consistent with physiologic displacements. Future mathematical modeling of the otolith organs should include the effects of a viscoelastic bi-layered gel, as this is a major contributor to system damping and response and increased otoconial layer deflections.



distributed parameter model, gel layer, viscoelastic, otolith, dynamic response