Establishing Boundary Conditions for Optimized Reconstruction of Head Impacts

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Virginia Tech


Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) encompass an array of head trauma caused by diverse mechanisms, including falls, vehicular accidents, and sports-related incidents. These injuries vary from concussions to diffuse axonal injuries. TBIs are characterized by the linear and rotational accelerations of the head during an impact, which are influenced by various factors such as the velocity and location of the impact and the contact surface. Consequently, the accuracy of laboratory tests designed to evaluate protective technologies must closely mirror real-world conditions. This dissertation explores the boundary conditions essential for accurately replicating head impacts in laboratory settings. The research aims to improve the reconstruction of head impacts, concentrating on two main areas: 1) examining various aspects of friction during head impacts and 2) biomechanically characterizing the head impacts sustained by older adults during falls. This study provides insights into the overall influence of friction during head impacts. It investigates the friction coefficients between the helmet's shell and the impact surface, as well as between human heads, headforms, and helmets. Additionally, it assesses how these frictional interactions influence oblique impact kinematics. Defining static and dynamic friction coefficients of the human head and headforms is needed to develop more realistic head impact testing methods, define helmet-head boundary conditions for computer-aided simulations, and provide a framework for cross-comparative analysis between studies that use different headforms and headform alterations. This research also introduces and evaluates the accuracy of a model-based image mapping method to measure head impact speeds from single-view videos in un-calibrated environments. This measurement technique advances our comprehension of head impact kinematics derived from uncalibrated video data. By applying this method, videos of falls involving older adults were analyzed to determine head impact speeds and boundary conditions. The resulting data was used to construct headform impacts, capturing linear and rotational head impact kinematics. These reconstructions can inform the development of biomechanical testing protocols tailored to assess protective gear for older adults, with the goal of reducing fall-related head injuries.



Keywords: Headforms, Friction, Biomechanics, Falls, Older Adults, Head Impacts